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FROM MAX WEBER: Essays m Sociolosy 


From Marianne Weber's Miix Wtbci : em Lebensbild 


FROM MAX WEBER: Essays in Sociology 






Copyright 1946 by Oxford University Press, New York, Inc. 


X rel; 


One hundred and fifty years ago A. F, Tytler set forth three Principles 
of Translation: To give a complete transcript of the original ideas; to 
imitate the styles of the original author; and to preserve the ease of the 
original text. In presenting selections from Max Weber to an EngHsh- 
reading public, we hope we have met the first demand, that of faithfulness 
to the original meaning. The second and the third demands are often 
disputable in translating German into English, and, in the case of Max 
Weber, they are quite debatable. 

The genius of the German language has allowed for a twofold stylistic 
tradition. One tradition corresponds to the drift of English towards brief 
and grammatically lucid sentences. Such sentences carry transparent trains 
of thought in which first things stand first. Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg 
Christoph Lichtenberg, and Franz Kafka are eminent among the repre- 
sentatives of this tradition. 

The other tradition is foreign to the tendency of modern English. It 
is often felt to be formidable and forbidding, as readers of Hegel and 
Jean Paul Richter, of Karl Marx and Ferdinand Tonnies may testify. 

It would hardly do to classify the two traditions as 'good' and 'bad.' 
Authors representing the first believe in addressing themselves to the 
ear; they wish to write as if they were speaking. The second group ad- 
dress themselves to the eye of the silent reader. Their texts cannot easily 
be read aloud to others; everyone has to read for himself. Max Weber 
once compared German literary humanism to the education of the Chinese 
Mandarin; and Jean Paul Richter, one of the greatest of German writers, 
asserted that 'a long period bespeaks of greater deference for the reader 
than do twenty short sentences. In the end the reader must make them 
over into one by rereading and recapitulation. The writer is no speaker 
and the reader is no listener. . .' ^ 

1 Vorschule der Aesthetik, p. 382, Sammtliche Werke, Vol. 18 (Berlin, 1841). 



It is obvious that this school of writing is not what it is because of the 
inability of its practitioners to write well. They simply follow an alto- 
gether different style. They use parentheses, qualifying clauses, inversions, 
and complex rhythmic devices in their polyphonous sentences. Ideas are 
synchronized rather than serialized. At their best, they erect a grammatical 
artifice in which mental balconies and watch towers, as well as bridges 
and recesses, decorate the main structure. Their sentences are gothic 
castles. And Max Weber's style is definitely in their tradition. 

Unfortunately, in his case this style is further complicated by a tendency 
to Platonize thought: he has a predilection for nouns and participles 
linked by the economic yet colorless forms of weak verbs, such as 'to be,' 
'to have,' or 'to seem.' This Platonizing tendency is one of Weber's tributes 
to German philosophy and jurisprudence, to the style of the pulpit and 
the bureaucratic office. 

We have therefore violated the second of Tytler's rules for translators. 
Although we have been eager to retain Weber's images, his objectivity, 
and of course his terms, we have not hesitated to break his sentence into 
three or four smaller units. Certain alterations in tense, which in English 
would seem illogical and arbitrary, have been eliminated; occasionally 
the subjunctive has been changed into the indicative, and nouns into 
verbs; appositional clauses and parentheses have been raised to the level 
of equality and condemned to follow rather than herald the main idea. 
As Weber has not observed Friedrich Nietzsche's suggestion that one 
should write German with an eye to ease of translation, we have had 
to drive many a wedge into the structure of his sentences. In all these 
matters, we have tried to proceed with respect and measure. 

But we have also broken the third rule: Whatever 'ease' Weber may 
have in English is an ease of the English prose into which he is rendered 
and not any ease of the original work. 

A translator of Weber faces a further difficulty. Weber frequently be- 
trays a self-conscious hesitancy in the use of loaded words such as democ- 
racy, the people, environment, adjustment, etc., by a profuse utilization of 
quotation marks. It would be altogether wrong to translate them by the 
addition of an ironical 'so-called.' Moreover, Weber often emphasizes 
words and phrases; the German printing convention allows for this more 
readily than does the English. Our translation, in the main, conforms to 
the English convention: we have omitted what to the English reader 
would seem self-conscious reservation and manner of emphasis. The same 
holds for the accumulation of qualifying words, with which the English 


language dispenses without losing in exactitude, emphasis, and meaning. 

Weber pushes German academic tradition to its extremes. His major 
theme often seems to be lost in a wealth o£ footnoted digressions, exemp- 
tions, and comparative illustrations. We have taken some footnotes into 
the text and in a few instances we have relegated technical cross-references 
which stand in the original text to footnotes. 

We have thus violated Tytler's second and third rules in order to fulfil 
the first. Our constant aim has been to make accessible to an English- 
reading public an accurate rendering of what Weber said. 

* * * 

We wish to thank the editorial staff of Oxford University Press for 
their encouragement of our efforts. Special thanks are due Mrs. Patricke 
Johns Heine who assisted revisions of the first drafts of chapters iv, x, and 
XII ; and to Mr. J. Ben Gillingham who performed the same task in connec- 
tion with section 6 of chapter xiii. Miss Honey Toda partially edited and 
retyped many pages of almost illegible manuscript and we are grateful 
for her diligence. 

We are grateful for the valuable assistance of Dr. Hedwig Ide Gerth 
and Mrs. Freya Mills. The administrative generosity of Professor Carl S. 
Joslyn, chairman of the Department of Sociology, the University of Mary- 
land, and the support of Professor Thomas C. McCormick, chairman at 
the University of Wisconsin, have greatly facilitated the work. Professor 
E. A. Ross has been kind enough to read chapter xii and to give us his 

One of our translations, 'Class, Status, Party,' has been printed in 
Dwight Macdonald's Politics (October 1944) and is included in this vol- 
ume by his kind permission. We are grateful to the pubHshers, Houghton 
MifHin Company, for permission to reprint a revision of Max Weber's 
paper given before the Congress of Arts and Science, St. Louis Exposition 
of 1904. 

Responsibility for the selections and reliability of the German meanings 
rendered is primarily assumed by H. H. Gerth; responsibility for the 
formulation and editorial arrangement of the EngHsh text is primarily 
assumed by C. Wright Mills. But the book as a whole represents our 
mutual work and we are jointly responsible for such deficiencies as it 
may contain. 

Hans H. Gerth 
C. Wright Mills 

Taole ol (contents 


Preface, v 

Introduction: THE MAN AND HIS WORK 

/ ^ I. A Biographical View, 3 
\ II. Political Concerns, 32 
>ij {TlILVntellectual Orientations, 45 
■"^^ \ ** I, Marx and Weber, 46 

^y^ Bureaucracy and Charisma: a Philosophy of History, 51 
; ^ 3. Methods of Social Science, 55 
j 4. The Sociology of Ideas and Interests, 61 

\ 5. Social Structures and Types of Capitalism, 65 

\ ,^6. Conditions of Freedom and the Image of Man, 70 


IV. Politics as a Vocation, 77 
V. Science as a Vocation, 129 


VI. Structures of Power, 159 

1. The Prestige and Power of the 'Great Powers,' 159 

2. The Economic Foundations of 'Imperialism,' 162 

3. The Nation, 171 

VII. Class, Status, Party, 180 

1. Economically Determined Power and the Social Order, 180 

2. Determination of Class-Situation by Market-Situation, 181 

3. Communal Action Flowing from Class Interest, 183 

4. Types of 'Class Struggle,' 184 

5. Status Honor, 186 

6. Guarantees of Status Stratification, 187 
- 7. 'Ethnic' Segregation and 'Caste,' 188 

8. Status Privileges, 190 

9. Economic Conditions and Effects of Status Stratification, 192 

10. Parties, 194 



VIII. Bureaucracy, 196 

I. Characteristics of Bureaucracy, 196 
•«. 2. The Position o£ the Official, 198 

3. The Presuppositions and Causes of Bureaucracy, 204 

4. The Quantitative Development of Administrative Tasks, 209 

5. Qualitative Changes of Administrative Tasks, 212 

- 6. Technical Advantages of Bureaucratic Organization, 214 

7. Bureaucracy and Lav/, 216 

8. The Concentration of the Means of Administration, 221 
— 9. The Leveling of Social Differences, 224 

10. The Permanent Character of the Bureaucratic Machine, 228 

11. Economic and Social Consequences of Bureaucracy, 230 

12. The Power Position of Bureaucracy, 232 

13. Stages in the Development of Bureaucracy, 235 

V 14. The 'Rationalization' of Education and Training, 240 
\^1X. The Sociology of Charismatic Authority, 245 

w- I. The General Character of Charisma, 245 
U 2. Foundations and Instability of Charismatic Authority, 248 
L.^3. Charismatic Kingship, 251 
X. The Meaning of Discipline, 253 

I. The Origins of Discipline in War, 255 

2.. The Discipline of Large-Scale Economic Organizations, 261 

3. Discipline and Charisma, 262 


XL The Social Psychology of the World Religions, 267 
XII. The Protestant Sects and the Spirit of Capitalism, 302 

XIII. Religious Rejections of the World and Their Directions, 323 

1. Motives for the Rejection of the World: the Meaning of Their 

Rational Construction, 323 

2. Typology of Asceticism and of Mysticism, 324 

3. Directions of the Abnegation of the World, 327 

4. The Economic Sphere, 331 

5. The Political Sphere, 333 

6. The Esthetic Sphere, 340 

7. The Erotic Sphere, 343 

8. The Intellectual Sphere, 350 

9. The Three Forms of Theodicy, 358 


XIV. Capitalism and Rural Society in Germany, 363 
XV. National Character and the Junkers, 386 


XVI. India: The Brahman and the Castes, 396 

1. Caste and Tribe, 398 

2. Caste and Guild, 399 

3. Caste and Status Group, 405 

4. The Social Rank Order of the Castes in General, 409 

5. Castes and Traditionalism, 411 
XVII. The Chinese Literati, 416 

1. Confucius, 421 

2. The Development of the Examination System, 422 

3. The Typological Position of Confucian Education, 426 

4. The Status-Honor of the Literati, 434 

5. The Gentleman Ideal, 436 

6. The Prestige of Officialdom, 438 

7. Views on Economic Policy, 440 

8. Sultanism and the Eunuchs as Political Opponents of the Literati, 


Notes, 445 
Index, 469 



1. A ijiograpnical V lew^ 

Max Weber was born in Erfurt, Thuringia, on 21 April 1864. His father, 
Max Weber, Sr., a trained jurist and municipal counselor, came from a 
family of linen merchants and textile manufacturers of western Germany. 
In 1869 the Webers moved to Berlin, which was soon to become the 
booming capital of Bismarck's Reich. There, Weber, Sr. became a pros- 
perous politician, active in the municipal diet of Berlin, the Prussian 
diet, and the new Reichstag. He belonged to the right-wing liberals led 
by the Hanoverian noble, Bennigsen. The family resided in Charlotten- 
burg, then a west-end suburb of Berlin, where academic and political 
notables were neighbors. In his father's house young Weber came to 
know such men as Dilthey, Mommsen, Julian Schmidt, Sybel, Treitschke, 
and Friedrich Kapp. 

Max Weber's mother, Helene Fallenstein Weber, was a cultured and 
liberal woman of Protestant faith. Various members of her Thuringian 
family were teachers and small officials. Her father, however, had been 
a well-to-do official who, on the eve of the 1848 revolution, had retired 
to a villa in Heidelberg. Gervinus, the eminent liberal historian and a 
close friend of her family, had tutored her in the several humanist sub- 
jects. Until she died, in 1919, Max Weber corresponded with her in long, 
intimate, and often learned letters. In Berlin Helene Weber became an 
overburdened Hausfraii, faithfully caring for the busy politician, the six 
children, and a constant circle of friends. Two of her children had died 
in infancy. The misery of the industrial classes of Berlin impressed her 
deeply. Her husband neither understood nor shared her religious and 
humanitarian concerns. He probably did not share her emotional hfe and 
certainly the two differed in their feelings about many public questions. 
During Max's youth and early manhood his parents' relations were in- 
creasingly estranged. 

The intellectual companions of the household and the extensive travels 
of the family made the precocious young Weber dissatisfied with the 



routine instruction of the schools. He was a weakly child, who suflfered 
meningitis at the age of 4; he preferred books to sports and in early 
adolescence he read widely and developed intellectual interests of his 
own. At the age of 13 he wrote historical essays, one of which he called, 
'Concerning the Course of German History, with Special Regard to the 
Positions of Kaiser and Pope.' Another was 'Dedicated to My Own In- 
significant Ego as well as to Parents and Siblings.' At fifteen he was 
reading as a student reads, taking extensive notes. He seemed to have 
been preoccupied from an early age with the balanced and qualified state- 
ment. Criticizing the rather low tastes of his classmates, who, instead 
of Scott's historical novels, read contemporary trash, he was careful to 
add: 'Perhaps it sounds presumptuous if I maintain this position, since 
I am one of the youngest fellows in my class; however, this circum- 
stance strikes one's eyes so sharply that I need not fear that I am not 
speaking the truth if I state it in this manner. Of course, there are always 
exceptions.' He appeared to be lacking also in any profound respect for 
his teachers. Since he was quite ready to share his knowledge with his 
schoolmates during examinations, they found him likeable and some- 
thing of a 'phenomenon.' 

Young Weber, 'a politician's son in the age of Bismarck's Rcalpolitif{,' 
dismissed the universal literary appraisal of Cicero as bunk. In his eyes, 
Cicero, especially in his first Catilinarian speech, was a dilettante of 
phrases, a poor politician, and an irresponsible speaker. Putting himself 
in Cicero's shoes, he asked himself what good could these long-winded 
speeches accomplish? He felt Cicero ought to have 'bumped off' {ab- 
murf(sen) Catiline and squelched the threatening conspiracy by force. 
After detailed arguments, he ended a letter to a cousin: 'In short, I find 
the speech very weak and without purpose, the whole policy vacillating 
with regard to its ends. I find Cicero without appropriate resolve and 
energy, without skill, and without the ability to bide his time.' The older 
correspondent, a student in Berlin University, responded by intimating 
that young Weber was parroting books he had read. In self-defense 
Weber repHed sharply but with dignity: 

What you have written sounds as if you believe I had copied from some 
book, or at least that I had rendered the substance of something I had read. 
After all, that is, in a nutshell, the meaning of your long lecture. You seek 
to bring out this point in a form as little concrete as possible because you 
entertain the opinion that I would mind an opinion which, so far as I my- 
self know, is not true. Though I have summoned all knowledge of myself, 


I have not been able to admit that I have let myself be swayed too much by 
any one book or by any phrase from the mouth of my teachers. . . To be 
sure . . . we younger ones profit in general from treasures that you seniors, 
and I consider you as one of them, have garnered. . . I admit that probably 
everything indirectly stems from books, for what are books for except to en- 
lighten and instruct man about things that are unclear to him? It is possible 
that I am very sensitive to books, their comments and deductions. This you 
can judge better than I, for in certain respects it is easier to know someone 
else than oneself. Yet, the content of my — perhaps completely untrue — state- 
ment does not come directly from any book. For the rest, I do not mind your 
criticism, as quite similar things are to be found in Mommsen, as I have 
only now discovered.^ 

Young Weber's mother read her son's letters without his knowledge. 
She was greatly concerned that she and her son were becoming intel- 
lectually estranged. It is not strange that a sincere and intelligent adoles- 
cent, aware of the difficulties between his parents and observing the 
characteristic ruses of a Victorian patriarchal family, learned that words 
and actions should not be taken at their face value. He came to feel that 
if one wanted to get at the truth, direct and first-hand knowledge was 
necessary. Thus when he was sent to 'confirmation' lessons, he learned 
enough Hebrew to get at the original text of the Old Testament. 

Frau Weber worried about her son's religious indifference. She wrote: 

The closer Max's confirmation approaches, the less can I see that he feels 
any of the deeper stimulating influence in this period of his development 
which would make him think about what he is asked to enunciate before 
the altar as his own conviction. The other day, when we were sitting alone, 
I tried to get out of him what he thinks and feels about the main questions 
of Christian consciousness. He seemed quite astonished that I should presup- 
pose that the self-clarification of such questions as the belief in immortality 
and the Benevolence guiding our fate should result from confirmation lessons 
for every thinking man. I felt these things with great warmth in my innermost 
being — independent of any dogmatic form, they had become the most vital 
conviction . . . [yet] it was impossible for me to express it to my own child 
in such a way that it would make any impression on him.^ 

With this profound and personal piety, Helene Weber suflfered under 
the worldliness of her external family life. Nevertheless, she lovingly 
resigned herself to the somewhat complacent, self-righteous, and patri- 
archial atmosphere created by her husband. As an adolescent, Weber 
had less and less of a common ground with his mother in serious mat- 


ters. It was not that he was drawn to his father: the worldly atmosphere 
of modern intellectual life drew Weber away from the philistinism of his 
father as well as from the piety of his mother. 

Although respectful, he rebelled against the authority of his elders. 
Yet, rather than take part in the 'frivolous' pursuits of his classmates, 
the boredom of school routine, and the intellectual insignificance of his 
teachers, he withdrew into his own world. Such a boy would not sub- 
mit to the impositions of his father. The thoughtless manner in which 
his father used his wife did not escape the discerning eye of the seven- 
teen-year-old boy. At one point, on a journey to Italy with his father, 
he was admonished for not living up to the appropriate degree of stereo- 
typed tourist enthusiasm. Max simply declared his intention of returning 
home, at once and alone. 

The confirmation motto that Weber received was: 'The Lord is the 
spirit, but where the Lord's spirit is, there also is freedom.' Max Weber's 
widow in her biography comments: 'Hardly any other Biblical motto 
could better express the law governing this child's life.' 

Weber's pre-university schooling came to an end in the spring of 1882. 
Possessed of exceptional talent, he had had no need to 'strain.' His teach- 
ers, however, attested to his lack of routine industry and doubted his 
'moral maturity.' Like many nineteenth-century thinkers, he made a 
rather unfavorable impression upon his teachers. The seventeen-year-old> 
stringy young man with sloping shoulders still appeared wanting in 
appropriate respect for authority. 

He went to Heidelberg and, following in the steps of his father, en- 
rolled as a student of law. He also studied a variety of cultural subjects, 
including history, economics, and philosophy, which at Heidelberg were 
taught by eminent scholars. He accepted provisional membership in his 
father's dueling fraternity, the father's influence thus bringing him into 
such circles. From the mother's side, through an older cousin who was 
studying theology, a son of the Strassburg historian Baumgarten, he par- 
ticipated in the theological and philosophical controversies of the day. 

He began his daily routine at Heidelberg by rising early to attend a 
lecture in logic. Then he 'fiddled around' in the dueling hall for an 
hour. He sat through his lectures 'in a studious way,' went to lunch at 
12:30, 'for one mark'; occasionally he had a quarter of a litre of wine or 


beer with his meal. Frequently, for two hours in the early afternoon he 
played a 'solid game of cards.' Then he retreated to his rooms, went 
over his lecture notes, and read such books as Strauss' The Old and the 
New Belief. 'Sometimes in the afternoon I go with friends to the moun- 
tains and walk, and in the evening we meet again at the restaurant and 
have a quite good supper for 80 pfennig. I read Lotze's Microcosm, and 
we get into heated argument about it.' ^ Occasionally, invitations to the 
homes of professors gave him an opportunity to imitate the characteristic 
peculiarities of people known to the group. 

During subsequent semesters, Weber joined heartily in the social life 
of the dueling fraternity, and he learned to hold his own in drinking 
bouts as well as duels. Soon his face carried the conventional dueling 
scar. He fell into debt and remained so during his Heidelberg years. 
The student and patriotic songs he learned during this period lingered 
in his memory throughout the course of his life. The stringy youth grew 
into the robust man, broad-shouldered and rather stout. When he visited 
his mother in Berlin, now a man with the external characteristics of 
Imperial Germany, his mother was shocked at his appearance and re- 
ceived him with a slap in the face. 

Looking back upon his Heidelberg years, Weber wrote: 'The usual 
training for haughty aggression in the dueling fraternity and as an 
officer has undoubtedly had a strong influence upon me. It removed 
the shyness and insecurity of my adolescence.'^ 

After three semesters at Heidelberg, at the age of 19 Weber moved 
to Strassburg in order to serve his year in the army. Apart from dueling, 
he had never done any physical exercise, and the military service with 
its drill was difficult for him. In addition to the physical strain, he suf- 
fered greatly under the stupidity of barrack drill and the chicanery of 
subaltern officers. He did not like to give up his intellectual pursuits: 

When I come home I usually go to bed around nine o'clock. However, I 
cannot fall asleep, as my eyes are not tired and the intellectual side of man 
is not being utilized. The feeling, which begins in the morning and increases 
toward the end of the day, of sinking slowly into the night of abysmal 
stupidity is actually the most disagreeable thing of all.^ 

Weber adjusted to this feeling by having his fill of alcohol in the 
evening and going through the military routine the next day in the 
daze of a moderate hangover. Then he felt 'that the hours fly away 
because nothing, not a single thought, stirs under my skull.' Although 


he finally built up his endurance and met most of the physical demands 
quite well, he never measured up to the gymnastic acrobatics. Once 
a sergeant shouted at him, in Berlin dialect: 'Man, you look like a barrel 
of beer swinging on a trapeze.' He made up for this deficiency by per- 
fecting his marching endurance and his goosestep. At no time did he 
cease to rebel against the 

incredible waste of time required to domesticate thinking beings into ma- 
chines responding to commands with automatic precision. . . One is sup- 
posed to learn patience by observing for an hour each day all sorts of sense- 
less things which are called military education. As if, my God! after three 
months of the manual of arms for hours every day and the innumerable in- 
sults of the most miserable scoundrels, one could ever be suspected of 
suffering from lack of patience. The officer candidate is supposed to be de- 
prived of the possibility of using his mind during the period of military 

Yet Weber was quite objective; he admitted that the body works 
more precisely when all thinking is eliminated. And after he received 
his officer's commission, he quickly learned to see the brighter side of 
army life. He was well esteemed by his superior officers, and contributed 
tall stories and a keen sense of humor to the comradeship of the officers' 
mess; and, as one capable of command, he won the respect of the men 
under him. 

The military year was over in 1884 and at the age of 20 Weber re- 
sumed his university studies in Berlin and Goettingen, where, two years 
later, he took his first examination in law. But during the summer of 
1885 and again in 1887 he returned to Strassburg for military exercises. 
And in 1888 he participated in military maneuvers in Posen. There he 
felt at close range the atmosphere of the German-Slavonic border, which 
seemed to him a 'cultural' frontier. His discussion of Channing, in a letter 
addressed to his mother, is characteristic of his thinking at this time. 

Channing had made a deep impression upon him, but Weber could 
not go along with his ethical absolutism and pacifism. T simply cannot 
see what moral elevation will result from placing military professionals 
on a footing with a gang of murderers and holding them up for public 
disdain. War would not thereby gain in humaneness.' Characteristically, 
Weber does not enter into a theological dispute about the Sermon on the 
Mount; he keeps at a distance from Channing by locating his perspective 
in the social and historical situation; he tries thereby to 'understand' and, 
at the same time, he relativizes Channing's position. 'Channing obviously 


has no idea of such matters [war and desertion]. He has in mind the 
conditions of American enhsted armies with which the predatory wars 
of the democratic American federal Government against Mexico etc. have 
been fought.' ^ The arguments indicate, in nuce, the position that Weber 
later argues, in the last section of Politics as a Vocation and in the discus- 
sion of religion and politics in Religious Rejections of the World.^ 

It is characteristic of Weber's way of life that in Strassburg his main 
social experience remained within his family situation. Two of his 
mother's sisters were married to Strassburg professors; and Weber 
found friendship and intellectual discourse as well as profound emotional 
experience in their houses. Some of the Baumgarten family were ex- 
ceptionally prone to mystical and religious experiences, and young Weber 
participated with great sympathy in the tensions that these experiences 
occasioned. He became the confidant of almost everyone concerned, 
learning to appreciate and sympathize with their respective values. He 
spoke of himself as 'Ich Weltmensch' and tried to find a workable solu- 
tion for the several persons involved. And for Weber this meant 
going beyond ethical absolutism: 'The matter does not appear to me 
to be so desperate if one does not ask too exclusively (as the Baum- 
gartens, now as often, do) : "Who is morally right and who is morally 
wrong?" But if one rather asks: "Given the existing conflict, how can 
I solve it with the least internal and external damage for all con- 
cerned?" '° Weber thus suggested a pragmatic view, a focus on the 
consequences of various decisions rather than on the stubborn insistence 
upon the introspective awareness of one's intense sincerity. His early let- 
ters and the experiences at Strassburg clearly point to his later distinction 
between an ethic of responsibility and an ethic of absolute ends. 

Weber concluded his studies and took up service in the law courts 
of Berlin, in which city he lived with his parents. In the early 'eighties, 
he settled down, a diligent student of law, in the lecture rooms of the 
eminent jurists of the time. Among them, he admired Gneist, whose 
lectures directed his attention to current pohtical problems. 'I find his 
lectures true masterpieces; really, I have wondered about his manner 
of directly entering questions of politics and about the way he de- 
velops strictly liberal views without becoming a propagandist, which 
Treitschke does become in his lectures on state and church.' ^° 

Weber concentrated upon a field in which economic and legal history 
overlapped. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis on the history of trading com- 


panics during the Middle Ages (1889), examining hundreds of ItaHan 
and Spanish references and learning both languages in order to do so. 
In 1890 he passed his second examination in law. He habilitated himself 
in Berhn for commercial, German, and Roman law with a treatise on 
what Marx once called 'the secret history of the Romans,' namely, The 
History of Agrarian Institutions (1891). The modest title actually covers 
a sociological, economic, and cultural analysis of ancient society, a theme 
to which Weber repeatedly returned. He had to defend one of the finer 
points of his thesis against Theodor Mommsen. At the end of the in- 
conclusive exchange, the eminent historian asserted that he knew of no 
better man to succeed him 'than the highly esteemed Max Weber.' 

In the spring of 1892, a grand niece of Max Weber, Sr., came to Berlin 
in order to educate herself for a profession. Marianne Schnitger, the 
twenty-one-year-old daughter of a doctor, had attended a finishing school 
in the city of Hanover. Upon returning to Berlin after an earlier visit to 
the Weber home, she realized that she was in love with Max Weber. 
After some confusion, Victorian misunderstandings, and moral attempts 
at self-clarification, Max and Marianne announced their formal engage- 
ment. They were married in the fall of 1893. 

For some six years before his marriage to Marianne, Weber had been 
in love with a daughter of his mother's sister in Strassburg, who, for 
rather long periods, was in a mental hospital. She was recovering when 
Weber gently broke with her. He never forgot that he had unwillingly 
caused suffering to this tender girl. It was perhaps an important reason 
for the mildness of his reactions to others who were guilty in the field of 
personal relations and for his general stoicism in personal affairs. In 
addition to this situation, another moral difficulty had stood in the way 
of the marriage. Perhaps because of Weber's hesitancy in approaching 
Marianne, a friend of his had courted her, and it was somewhat painful 
to Weber to cut in. 

After his marriage to Marianne, Weber lived the life of a successful 
young scholar in Berlin. Having taken the place of Jakob Goldschmidt, 
a famous teacher of economics who had become ill, he was in lecture 
hall and seminar nineteen hours a week. He also participated in state 
examinations for lawyers and, in addition, imposed a heavy load of work 
upon himself. He was active in consultation work for government agen- 


cies, and made special studies for private reform groups, one on the stock 
exchange, and another on the estates in Eastern Germany. 

In the fall of 1894, he accepted a full professorship in economics at 
Freiburg University. There he met Hugo Miinsterberg, Pastor Naumann, 
and Wilhelm Rickert. He had an enormous load, working until very late. 
When Marianne urged him to get some rest, he would call out : 'If I don't 
work until one o'clock I can't be a professor.' 

In 1895, the Webers made a trip to Scotland and the west coast of 
Ireland. Returning to Freiburg, Weber gave his inaugural address at 
the University. It was entitled, 'The National State and Economic Policy,' 
and was a confession of belief in imperialist Realpolitil^ and the House 
of Hohenzollern. It caused quite a stir. 'The brutality of my views,' he 
wrote, 'have caused horror. The Catholics were the most content with it, 
because I gave a firm kick to "Ethical Culture." ' 

Weber accepted a chair at Heidelberg in 1896, replacing the eminent 
and retired Knies, one of the heads of 'the historical school.' He thus 
became the colleague of former teachers, Fischer, Bekker, and others, 
who still stamped the intellectual and social life of Heidelberg. His circle 
of friends included Georg Jellinek, Paul Hensel, Karl Neumann, the 
art historian, and Ernst Troeltsch, the religionist, who was to become 
one of Weber's greatest friends and intellectual companions, and who 
for a time lived in the Weber household. 

Max Weber's father died in 1897, shortly after a tense discussion in 
which Max heatedly defended his mother against what seemed to him 
autocratic impositions. Later Weber felt that his hostile outbreak against 
his father was a guilty act which could never be rectified.^^ During the 
following summer, the Webers traveled to Spain and on the return trip 
Weber became fevered and ill with a psychic malady. He seemed to get 
better when the academic year began, but towards the end of the fall 
semester he collapsed from tension and remorse, exhaustion and anxiety. 
For his essentially psychiatric condition, doctors prescribed cold water, 
travel, and exercise. Yet Weber continued to experience the sleeplessness 
of an inner tension. 

For the rest of his life he suffered intermittently from severe depres- 
sions, punctuated by manic spurts of extraordinarily intense intellectual 
work and travel. Indeed, his way of life from this time on seems to 


oscillate between neurotic collapse, travel, and work. He was held to- 
gether by a profound sense of humor and an unusually fearless practice 
of the Socratic maxim. 

Eager to make the best of a bad situation and to comfort his wife, 
Weber wrote: 

Such a disease has its compensations. It has reopened to me the human 
side of life, which mama used to miss in me. And this to an extent previously 
unknown to me. I could say, with John Gabriel Borkman, that 'an icy hand 
has let me loose.' In years past my diseased disposition expressed itself in a 
frantic grip upon scientific work, which appeared to me as a talisman. . . 
Looking back, this is quite clear. I know that sick or healthy, I shall no 
longer be the same. The need to feel crushed under the load of work is 
extinct. Now I want most of all to live out my life humanly and to see my 
love as happy as it is possible for me to make her. I do not believe that I 
shall achieve less than formerly in my inner treadmill, of course, always in 
proportion to my condition, the permanent improvement of which will in 
any case require much time and rest.^^ 

He repeatedly attempted to continue his teaching. During one such 
attempt his arms and back became temporarily paralyzed, yet he forced 
himself to finish the semester. He felt dreadfully tired out; his head 
was weary; every mental effort, especially speech, was felt to be detri- 
mental to his entire being. In spite of occasional wrath and impatience, 
he thought of his condition as part of his fate. He rejected all 'good 
counsel.' Since adolescence, everything about him had been geared for 
thinking. And now, every intellectual pursuit became a poison to him. 
He had not developed any artistic abilities, and physical work of any 
sort was distasteful. His wife attempted to persuade him to take up 
some craft or hobby, but he laughed at her. For hours he sat and gazed 
stupidly, picking at his finger nails, claiming that such inactivity made 
him feel good. When he tried to look at his lecture notes, the words 
swam in confusion before his eyes. One day, while walking in a v/ood, 
he lost his sensory control and openly wept. A pet cat made him so angry 
with its mewing that he was quite beyond himself in rage. These symp- 
toms were present during the years 1898 and 1899. The university 
authorities granted him a leave with pay. Years later, in a letter to his 
friend, Karl Vossler, Weber wrote : ' "Misery teaches prayer." . . . Al- 
ways? According to my personal experience, I should like to dispute 
this statement. Of course, I agree with you that it holds very frequently, 
all too frequently for man's dignity.' ^* 


One fall the Webers traveled to Venice for 'a vacation,' They returned 
to Heidelberg and again Weber tried to resume some of his duties, but 
soon collapsed, more severely than ever before. At Christmas he asked 
to be dismissed from his position, but the University granted him a long 
leave of absence with a continuance of salary. 'He could not read or 
write, speak, walk, or sleep without pain; all mental and part of his 
physical functions refused to work.' ^^ 

Early in 1899, ^^ entered a small mental institution and remained 
there alone for several weeks. A young psychopathic cousin of Weber's 
was brought to the institution, and during the winter, on medical ad- 
vice, Weber's wife traveled with both men to Ajaccio on the island of 
Corsica. In the spring, they went to Rome, the ruins of which re-stimu- 
lated Weber's historical interest. He felt depressed by the presence of the 
psychopathic youth, who was then sent home. Several years later, this 
youth took his own life. Weber's letter of condolence to the parents 
gives us some insight into his freedom from conventional attitudes to- 
wards suicide. 

He was a man [he wrote of the cousin] who, chained to an incurably dis- 
eased body, yet had developed, perhaps because of it, a sensitivity of feeling, a 
clarity about himself, and a deeply hidden and proud and noble height of 
inner deportment such as is found among few healthy people. To know and to 
judge this is given only to those who have seen him quite near and who have 
learned to love him as we have, and who, at the same time, personally know 
what disease is. . . His future being what it was, he has done right to depart 
now to the unknown land and to go before you, who otherwise would have 
had to leave him behind on this earth, walking toward a dark fate, without 
counsel, and in loneliness.^^ 

With such an evaluation of suicide as a last and stubborn affirmation of 
man's freedom, Weber takes his stand at the side of such modern 
Stoics as Montaigne, Hume, and Nietzsche. He was, at the same time, 
of the opinion that religions of salvation do not approve of 'voluntary 
death,' that only philosophers have hallowed it.^^ 

Under the influence of the magnificent landscape of Italy and its his- 
torically grandiose scenes, Weber slowly recovered. The Webers also 
spent some time in Switzerland, where his mother, now 57, and his 
brother Alfred visited them. Shortly after his mother's visit. Max was 
able to resume reading, a book on art history. He commented: 'Who 
knows how long I can keep it up.? Anything but literature in my own 
field.' After three and a half years of intermittently severe disease, in 


1902 Weber felt able to return to Heidelberg and resume a light sched- 
ule of work. Gradually, he began to read professional journals and such 
books as Simmel's Philosophy of Money. Then, as if to make up for 
his years of intellectual privation, he plunged into a vast and universal 
literature in which art history, economics, and politics stood alongside 
the economic history of monastic orders. 

There were, however, repeated setbacks. He was still unable fully to 
take up his teaching work. He asked to be dismissed from his profes- 
sorship and to be made a titular professor. This request was first re- 
jected, but at his insistence, he was made a lecturer. He had requested 
the right to examine Ph.D. candidates, but this was not granted. After 
four and a half years without production he was able to write a book 
review. A new phase of writing finally began, at first dealing with 
problems of method in the social sciences. 

Weber suffered under the psychic burden of receiving money from 
the university without rendering adequate service. He felt that only a 
man at his work is a full man, and he forced himself to work. Yet after 
only a summer of it, he returned to Italy alone. During the year 1903, 
he traveled out of Germany no less than six times; he was in Italy, 
Holland, and Belgium. His own nervous condition, his disappointment 
at his own insufficiencies, frictions with the Heidelberg faculty, and the 
political state of the nation occasionally made him wish to turn his back 
on Germany forever. Yet during this year, 1903, he managed to join 
with Sombart in the editorship of the Archiv fi'ir Sozialivissenschajt und 
Sozialpoliti^, which became perhaps the leading social science journal in 
Germany, until suppressed by the Nazis. This editorship provided Weber 
an opportunity to resume contact with a wide circle of scholars and 
politicians and to broaden the focus of his own work. By 1904, his pro- 
ductivity was in full swing again and rising steeply. He published 
essays on the social and economic problems of Junker estates, objectivity 
in the social sciences, and the first section of the Protestant Ethic and the 
Spirit of Capitalism. 

Hugo Miinsterberg, his colleague from Freiburg days, had helped 
organize a 'Congress of Arts and Science' as part of the Universal Ex- 
position of 1904 in St. Louis. He invited Weber (along with Sombart, 
Troeltsch, and many others) to read a paper before the Congress.^^ By 
August, Weber and his wife were on the way to America. 


Max Weber's reaction to the United States was at once enthusiastic 
and detached. He possessed to an eminent degree the 'virtue' which 
Edward Gibbon ascribes to the studious traveler abroad, that Virtue 
which borders on a vice; the flexible temper which can assimilate itself 
to every tone of society from the court to the cottage; the happy flow of 
spirits which can amuse and be amused in every company and situa- 
tion.' ^^ Hence Weber was impatient and angry with quickly prejudiced 
colleagues, who, after a day and a half in New York, began to run down 
things in America. 

He wished to enter sympathetically into the new world without sur- 
rendering his capacity for informed judgments at a later time. He was 
fascinated by the rush hour in lower Manhattan, which he liked to 
view from the middle of Brooklyn Bridge as a panorama of mass trans- 
portation and noisy motion. The skyscrapers, which he saw as 'fortresses 
of capital,' reminded him of 'the old pictures of the towers in Bologna 
and Florence.' And he contrasted these towering bulks of capitalism with 
the tiny homes of American college professors: 

Among these masses, all individualism becomes expensive, whether it is in 
housing or eating. Thus, the home of Professor Hervay, of the German de- 
partment in Columbia University, is surely a doll's house with tiny little 
rooms, with toilet and bath facilities in the same room (as is almost always 
the case). Parties with more than four guests are impossible (worthy of be- 
ing envied!) and with all this, it takes one hour's ride to get to the center of 
the city. . .^^ 

From New York the party journeyed to Niagara Falls. They visited 
a small town and then went on to Chicago, which Weber found 'incred- 
ible.' He noted well its lawlessness and violence, its sharp contrasts of gold 
coast and slum, the 'steam, dirt, blood, and hides' of the stockyards, the 
'maddening' mixture of peoples: 

the Greek shining the Yankee's shoes lor five cents, the German acting as his 
waiter, the Irishman managing his politics, and the Italian digging his dirty 
ditches. With the exception of some exclusive residential districts, the whole 
gigantic city, more extensive than London, is like a man whose skin has 
been peeled off and whose entrails one sees at work. 

Again and again, Weber was impressed by the extent of waste, espe- 
cially the waste of human life, under American capitalism. He noticed 


the same conditions tliat the muckrakers were pubUcizing at the time. 
Thus he commented, in a letter to his mother: 

After their work, the workers often have to travel for hours in order to 
reach their homes. The tramway company has been bankrupt for years. As 
usual a receiver, who has no interest in speeding up the liquidation, manages 
its affairs; therefore, new tram cars are not purchased. The old cars con- 
standy break down, and about four hundred people a year are thus killed 
or crippled. According to the law, each death costs the company about 
$5,000, which is paid to the widow or heirs, and each cripple costs $10,000, 
paid to the casualty himself. These compensations are due so long as the 
company does not introduce certain precautionary measures. But they have 
calculated that the four hundred casualties a year cost less than would the 
necessary precautions. The company therefore does not introduce them.^° 

In St. Louis, Weber delivered a successful lecture on the social struc- 
ture of Germany, with particular reference to rural and political prob- 
lems. This was his first 'lecture' in six and a half years. Many of his 
colleagues were present, and according to the report of his wife, who 
was also present, his talk was very well received. This was gratifying to 
the Webers, as it seemed to indicate that he was again able to function 
in his profession. He traveled through the Oklahoma territory, and vis- 
ited New Orleans as well as the Tuskegee Institution; he visited distant 
relatives in North Carolina and Virginia; and then, in fast tempo, trav- 
eled through Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, and Boston. In New 
York, he searched the hbrary of Columbia University for materials to 
be used in The Protestant Ethic. 

Of the Americans [whom we met] it was a woman, an inspector of in- 
dustry, who was by far the most pre-eminent figure. One learned a great deal 
about the radical evil of this world from this passionate socialist. The hope- 
lessness of social legislation in a system of state particularism, the corruption 
of many labor leaders who incite strikes and then have the manufacturer 
pay them for settling them. (I had a personal letter of introduction to such a 
scoundrel.) . . . and yet, [the Americans] are a wonderful people. Only the 
Negro question and the terrible immigration form a big, black cloud.^^ 

During his travels in America Weber seems to have been most in- 
terested in labor problems, the immigrant question, problems of politi- 
cal management — especially of municipal government — all expressions 
of the 'capitahst spirit,' ^" the Indian question and its administration, the 
plight of the South, and the Negro problem. Of the American Negro, 
Weber wrote: 'I have talked to about one hundred white Southerners 


of all social classes and parties, and the problem of what shall become 
of these people [the Negroes] seems absolutely hopeless.' 

He had arrived in America in September 1904; he left for Germany 
shortly before Christmas.* 

Perhaps the United States was for Weber what England had been for 
previous generations of German liberals: the model of a new society. 
Here the Protestant sects had had their greatest scope and in their wake 
the secular, civic, and 'voluntary associations' had flowered. Here a po- 
litical federation of states had led to a 'voluntary' union of immense 

Weber was far from the conceit of those German civil servants who 
prided themselves in their 'honest administration' and pointed disdain- 
fully to the 'corrupt practices' of American politics. Friedrich Kapp, a 
returned German-American, had brought such attitudes home to Weber. 
But Weber saw things in a broad e r perspect ive. Being convinced that 
politics are not to be judged solely as a moral business, his attitude was 
rather that of Charles Sealsfield, who had, during the eighteen-thirties, 
unfolded an epic panorama of the birth of an empire-building nation 
destined to 'take its place among the mightiest nations upon the earth.' 
Sealsfield had asked, 'Is it not rather a necessary, absolute condition of 
our liberty that citizens' virtues, as well as their vices, should grow more 
luxuriantly because they are freely permitted to grow and increase.?' 
Weber might have agreed, after what he saw, that 'the mouth which 
breathes the mephitic vapors of the Mississippi and the Red River 
swamps is not fit to chew raisins, that the hand which fells our gigantic 
trees and drains our bogs cannot put on kid gloves. Our land is the 
land of contrast.' ^^ 

The key focus of Weber's experience of America was upon the r ole 
of bureaucracy in a democracy. He saw that 'machine politics' were in- 
dispensable in modern 'mass democracy,' unless a 'leaderless democracy' 
and a confusion of tongues were to prevail. Machine politics, however, i 
mean the management of politics by professionals, by the disciplined 
party organization and its streamlined propaganda. Such democracy may 
also bring to the helm the Caesarist people's tribune, whether in the role 
of the strong president or the city manager. And the whole process 

*Some translations of Weber's letters from the United States are contained in H. W. 
Brann, 'Max Weber and the United States,' Southwestern Social Science Quarterly, June 
1944, pp. 18-30. 


tends towards increasing rational efficiency and therewith bureaucratic 
machines: party, municipal, federal. 

Weber saw this machine-building, however, in a dialectic fashion: 
Democracy must oppose bureaucracy as a tendency towards a caste of 
mandarins, removed from the common people by expert training, exam- 
ination certificates, and tenure of office, but: the scope of administrative 
functions, the end of the open frontier, and the narrowing of oppor- 
tunities make the spoils system, with its public waste, irregularities, and 
lack of technical efficiency, increasingly impossible and undemocratic. 
Thus democracy has to promote what reason demands and democratic 
sentiment hates. In his writings, Weber repeatedly refers to those Ameri- 
can workers who opposed civil-service reform by arguing that they pre- 
ferred a set of corrupt politicians whom they could oust and despise, to 
a caste of expert officials who would despise them and who were irre- 
movable. Weber was instrumental in having the German President's 
power strengthened as a balance of the Reichstag; this act should be 
understood along with his American experiences. He was, above all, im- 
pressed by the grandiose efficiency of a type of man, bred by free asso- 
ciations in which the individual had to prove himself before his equals, 
where no authoritative commands, but autonomous decision, good sense, 
and responsible conduct train for citizenship. 

In 191 8 Weber suggested in a letter to a colleague that Germany should 
borrow the American 'club pattern' as a means of 're-educating' Ger- 
many; for, he wrote, 'authoritarianism now fails completely, except in 
the form of the church.' ^^ Weber thus saw the connection between 
voluntary associations and the personality structure of the free man. His 
study of the Protestant sect testifies to that. He was convinced that the 
automatic selection of persons, with the pressure always upon the in- 
dividual to prove himself, is an infinitely deeper way for 'toughening' 
man than the ordering and forbidding technique of authoritarian insti- 
tutions. For such authoritarianism does not reach into the innermost of 
those subject to its external constraint, and it leaves them incapable of 
self-direction once the authoritarian shell is broken by counter-violence. 

Upon his return to Germany, Max Weber resumed his writing at 
Heidelberg. He finished the second part of The Protestant Ethic, which 
in a letter to Rickert he called 'Protestant asceticism as the foundation 


of modern vocational civilization — a sort of "spiritualist" construction of 
the modern economy.' ~^' 

The first Russian revolution redirected his scholarly work; he learned 
Russian, in bed before getting up each morning, in order to follow 
events in the Russian daily press. Then he chased 'after the events with 
his pen in order to pin them down as daily history.' In 1901 he pub- 
lished two major essays on Russia, 'The Situation of Bourgeois Democ- 
racy in Russia' and 'Russia's Transition to Sham Constitutionalism.' 

Eminent social scientists, such as SchmoUer and Brentano, encouraged 
him to resume a professorship, but Weber felt he was not capable of 
doing so. For a while longer, he wanted merely to write. Yet, being 
universally esteemed, he could not help being drawn into academic poli- 
tics, judging prospective candidates for positions, or trying to open up 
room for various younger scholars, such as Georg Simmel and Robert 
Michels, to whom satisfactory careers were blocked or precluded because 
of anti-Semitism or prejudice against young socialist docents. The case 
of Robert Michels, the son of an eminent Cologne family of patrician 
merchants, especially enraged Weber. At the time, German universities 
were closed to him because he was a social democrat. Weber asserted 
that, 'If I compare Italian, French, and, at the moment, even Russian 
conditions with this condition of ours, I have to consider it a shame of 
a civilized nation.' Some professor maintained that in addition to political 
reasons for Michels' exclusion there was the further reason that Michels 
had not baptized his children. Upon this Weber wrote an article in the 
Frankjurter Zeitung on 'The So-called Academic Freedom,' in which 
he said: 

As long as such views prevail, I see no possibility of behaving as if we had 
such a thing as academic freedom. . . And as long as religious communities 
knowingly and openly allovi^ their sacraments to be used as means for making 
a career, on the same level of a dueling corps or an officer's commission, they 
deserve the disdain about which they are so used to complaining.^^ 

In 1908 he investigated the industrial psychology of his grandfather's 
linen factory in WestphaUa. He had hoped to promote a series of such 
studies, and the methodological note he wrote is a causal analysis of 
physical and psychic factors influencing the productivity of industrial 
labor. In this same year, he worked out a long essay on the social struc- 
ture of ancient society, published in an encyclopedia * under the modest 

* Handwdrterbitch der Staatswissenschaften, 3rd ed., vol. i. 


and somewhat misleading title, 'The Agrarian Institutions of Antiquity.' 
A disciple of Freud made his appearance in the intellectual circles in 
Heidelberg in 1909. Conventional Victorian conceptions of marital fidel- 
ity and of morally justified jealousy were depreciated in the name of a 
new norm of mentally healthy living. Full of sympathy for the tragic 
entanglements and moral difficulties of friends, which resulted from this 
conduct, Weber reacted sharply against what appeared to him a con- 
fusion of valuable, though still imprecise, psychiatric insights with an 
ethic of vulgar pride in 'healthy nerves.' He was not willing to accept 
healthy nerves as an absolute end, or to calculate the moral worth of 
repression in terms of its cost to one's nerves. Weber thought that the 
therapeutic technique of Freud was a resuscitation of the oral confes- 
sion, with the clinician displacing the old directeur d'dme. He felt that 
an ethic was disguised in the scientific discussion of the clinician, and 
that in this matter a specialized scientist, who should be concerning him- 
self only with means, was usurping from laymen their right to make 
their own evaluations. Weber thus saw a 'loose' way of life draped in 
what he felt was a shifting clinical theory. One can easily see that he 
resisted a theory that is, in principle, directed against asceticism and 
that conceives of ends only in pragmatic terms, thus deflating the im- 
perative claim of heroic ethics. Being personally characterized by an 
extremely stern conscience, Weber was often ready to forgive others 
but was quite rigid with himself. He believed that many of those who 
followed in the wake of Freud were too ready to justify what appeared 
to him as moral shabbiness. 

It should, however, be noted that although Weber was not willing to 
see Freud's disciples use their theories in this personal way, he had 

no doubt that Freud's ideas can become a source of highly significant inter- 
pretations of a whole series of cultural and historical, moral and religious 
phenomena. Of course, from the point of view of a cultural historian, their 
significance is not nearly so universal as the understandable enthusiasms of 
Freud and his disciples, in the joy of their discovery, would have us believe. 
A precondition would be the establishment of an exact typology of a scope 
and certainty which does not exist today, despite all assertions to the con- 
trary, but which perhaps will exist in two to three decades.^'^ 

In Heidelberg, during these years from 1906 to 1910, Weber partici- 
pated in intense intellectual discussions with such eminent colleagues as 


his brother, Alfred Weber, with Otto Klebs, Eberhard Gothein, Wilhelm 
Windelband, Georg JelUnek, Ernst Troeltsch, Karl Neumann, Emil 
Lask, Friedrich Gundolf, and Arthur Salz. During vacation times or 
other 'free periods,' many friends from outside Heidelberg visited the 
Webers. Among them were Robert Michels, Werner Sombart, the phi- 
losopher Paul Hensel, Hugo Miinsterberg, Ferdinand Tonnies, Karl 
Vossler, and, above all, Georg Simmel. Among the younger scholars who 
sought Weber's stimulus were: Paul Honigsheim, Karl Lowenstein, and 
Georg Lukacs. These circles were not closed to the non-academic; they 
included a few eminent artists, such as Mina Tobler, the musician to 
whom Weber dedicated his study of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well 
as the former actress, Klare Schmid-Romberg, and her husband, a poet, 
philosopher, and connoisseur of art. Karl Jaspers, a psychiatrist who was 
to turn philosopher and use Kierkegaard's work in his philosophy of 
existentialism, and H. Gruhle, a psychiatrist interested in the latest of 
modern art, also belonged to the circle. Three generations of intellectual 
and artistic elite were in active discourse at these Heidelberg meeting-s. 

In 1908 Max Weber was active in establishing a sociological society. 
In a selfless manner, he carried the routine burdens of overcoming the 
usual difficulties of such organizations. He was decisive in setting the 
level of discussion at the meetings and in defining the scope of future 
work. He stimulated collective research enterprises, such as an investi- 
gation of voluntary associations, ranging from athletic leagues to re- 
ligious sects and political parties. He proposed a methodical study of 
the press by questionnaires, and directed and prompted studies in in- 
dustrial psychology. In addition, he assumed responsibility to the pub- 
lisher Siebeck of organizing an encyclopedic series of social-science 
studies. This latter project was intended as a two-year job, but it con- 
tinued even after his death, his own Wirtschajt und Gesellschajt appear- 
ing posthumously as a volume in the series. 

The severity of Weber's sense of honor, his prompt chivalry, and his 
position as a reserve officer occasionally impelled him to engage in court 
actions and 'affairs of honor.' It was characteristic of him to act with 
great impetuosity and righteous indignation. Yet when his opponent had 
been morally crushed by the machinery he had set in motion, his furor 
cooled, and he was overcome by mercifulness and sympathy, the more 
so when he realized that others besides the guilty one suffered from his 
actions. Close friends who did not feel so strongly as Weber in such 
matters were inclined to consider him a querulous man who lacked a 


sense of measure, a Don Quixote whose actions might well boomerang. 
Others hailed him as Germany's foremost educator, whose moral au- 
thority raised him above the shoulders of the spineless Philistines, out 
only for their own careers. His Don Quixote aspect comes out clearly in 
a statement he made to his friend, Theodor Heuss, in 1917: 'As soon as 
the war has come to an end, I shall insult the Kaiser until he suesjne, 
and then the responsible statesmen, Biilow, Tirpitz, and Bethmann- 
Hollweg, will be compelled to make statements under oath.' ^^ 

When the First World War began, Weber was 50. 'In spite of all,' it 
was 'a great and wonderful war,' "^ and he wanted to march at the head 
of his company. That his age and medical condition made this impos- 
sible was painful to him. But as a member of the reserve corps, he was 
commissioned as a disciplinary and economic officer, a captain, in charge 
of establishing and running nine hospitals in the Heidelberg area. In 
this position he experienced from the inside what had become a central 
concept in his sociology: bureaucracy. The social apparatus of which 
he had charge was, however, one of dilettantes, rather than of experts; 
and Weber worked for and witnessed its transformation into an or- 
dered bureaucracy. From August 1914 to the fall of 1915, he served this 
commission, which was then dissolved in a reorganization, and Weber 
honorably retired. His political frustrations during the war will be dis- 
cussed presently. 

He went to Brussels for a short time in order to confer with Jaffe 
about the administration of the occupation of Belgium. Then he went 
to Berlin, as a self-appointed prophet of doom, to write memoranda, 
seek contact with political authorities, and fight the mad imperialist 
aspiration. In the final analysis, he debunked the conduct of the war- 
party as being the gamble of munition makers and agrarian capitalists. 
From Berlin he went to Vienna and Budapest, in the service of the 
government, to conduct unofficial conversations with industrialists about 
tariff questions. 

In the fall of 1916 he was back in Heidelberg, studying the Hebrew 
prophets and working on various sections of Wirtschaft und Gesell- 
schaft. In the summer of 191 7 he vacationed at his wife's home in West- 
phalia, reading the poetry of Stefan George and Gundolf's book on 
Goethe. In the winters of 1917 and 1918, socialist-pacifist students fre- 
quented his 'open hours' on Sundays in Heidelberg. The young com- 
munist, Ernst Toller, was among them; frequently he read his poetry 
aloud. Later, when Toller was arrested, Weber spoke for him in the 


military court and effected his release, although he could not prevent 
the removal of the student group from the university. 

In April 1918, he moved to Vienna for a summer term at the uni- 
versity. These were his first university lectures for nineteen years. Under 
the title, 'A Positive Critique of the Materialist Conception of History,' 
he presented his sociology of world religions and politics. His lectures 
became events for the university, and he had to perform them in the 
largest hall available, as professors, state officials, and politicians attended. 
Yet he experienced compulsive anxieties about these lectures, using 
opiates in order to induce sleep. Vienna University offered him a per- 
manent position, but he did not accept. 

In 1918 Weber shifted from Monarchist to Republican loyalties. As 
Meinecke said, 'We have turned from being Monarchists at heart to 
being Republicans by reason.' He abstained from accepting any political 
position in the new regime. A whole series of academic positions were 
offered to him: Berlin, Gottingen, Bonn, and Munich. He accepted the 
Munich offer, going there in the summer of 1919 as Brentano's suc- 
cessor. In Munich, he lived through the excitement of the Bavarian Dic- 
tatorship and its collapse. His last lectures were worked out at the re- 
quest of his students and have been published as General Economic 
History. In midsummer, he fell ill, and, at a late stage of his disease, a 
doctor was able to diagnose his condition as deep-seated pneumonia. He 
died in June 1920. 

Max Weber belonged to a generation of universal scholars, and there 
are definite sociological conditions for scholarship of the kind he dis- 
played. One such condition was a gymnasium education, which, in 
Weber's case, equipped him in such a way that the Indo-Germanic 
languages were but so many dialects of one linguistic medium. (A read- 
ing knowledge of Hebrew and Russian was acquired by the way.) An 
intellectually stimulating family background gave him a head-start and 
made it possible for him to study an unusual combination of specialized 
subjects. When he had passed his law examination, he was at the same 
time a well-equipped economist, historian, and philosopher. And by vir- 
tue of having participated, through the Strassburg branch of his family, 
in the theological disputes of the time, he was sufficiently acquainted 
with the literature of theology to handle it expertly. 

It is clear that the enormous amount of work Weber turned out 


would not have been possible without a certain type o£ fruitful leisure. 
Materially, this was made possible, at first, by his position as a scholar 
in a German university. The career pattern in these universities gave the 
German docent time for research during the years when the young 
American academician is overburdened with teaching. In addition, there 
was no pressure for rapid publication — as attested by the fact that many 
book-length chapters of Wirtschaft und Gesellschajt, written before 
World War I, were published after 1920. In his middle life Weber came 
into an inheritance that was sufficient to relieve him of serious worry 
about money. 

The relative lack of pressure for 'practical' and immediately 'useful' 
knowledge, conditioned by a strongly humanist atmosphere, allowed for 
the pursuit of themes remote from the practical demands of the day. In 
the social sciences this was the more the case because the impact of 
Marxism almost required that the academician take up the question of 
capitaUsm as an epochal structure, rather than narrowed and 'practical' 
themes. In this connection the freedom of the university from local pres- 
sures was important. 

Long decades of peace for Germany, from 1870 to 1914, coupled with 
general prosperity, had entirely changed the conditions of German schol- 
arship. The petty bourgeois professor, harried by money matters, had 
been replaced by an upper-class academician with a large home and a 
maid. This change facilitated the establishment of an intellectual salon. 
It is from this position that Weber saw the residences of American uni- 
versity professors. 

The intellectual traditions and the accumulated scholarship of Ger- 
many, especially in history, the classics, psychology, theology, compara- 
tive literature, philology, and philosophy, gave the late-nineteenth-cen- 
tury German scholar a pre-eminent base upon which to build his work. 
And the clash of two bodies of intellectual work, the conservative inter- 
pretation of ideas by academicians in the tradition of Hegel and Ranke, 
and the radical intellectual production of non-academic socialists, Kaut- 
sky, Bernstein, and Mehring, formed a unique and challenging intel- 
lectual tension. 

A number of contradictory elements stood in tension with one another 
and made up the life and views of Max Weber. If, as he wrote, 'men 
are not open books,' we should certainly not expect to find even an easy 
index to his many-sided existence. To understand him, we have to grasp 
a series of irrational half-paradoxes. 


Although he was personally irreligious — in his own words, 'religiously 
unmusical' — he nevertheless spent a good part of his scholarly energy 
in tracing the effects of religion upon human conduct and life. It may 
not be irrelevant in this connection to repeat that his mother and her 
family were deeply pious and that in his early student days Weber lived 
close to friends and relatives who suffered extraordinary religious and 
psychic states; these experiences profoundly impressed themselves upon 
him. That he despised the conventional 'church' Christianity goes with- 
out saying, yet he had pity and condescension for those who in political 
tragedy and personal despair sacrificed their intellects to the refuge of 
the altar. 

Many of his friends considered his sincere devotion to his work, the 
obvious pathos and dignity of his bearing, and the forcefulness and in- 
sight of his speech as religious phenomena. Yet his work is hardly un- 
derstandable without an appreciation of his disenchanted view of re- 
ligious matters. His love for his mother and his genuine detachment 
from 'religion' prevented him from ever falling into the Promethean 
blasphemy of Nietzsche, the greatest atheist of the nineteenth century, 
which he saw, in the last analysis, as a 'painful residue of the bourgeois 
Philistine.' '° 

Weber was one of the last of the 'political professors' who made de- 
tached contributions to science, and, as the intellectual vanguard of the 
middle classes, were also leading political figures. Despite this fact, for 
the sake of 'objectivity' and the freedom of his students, Weber fought 
against 'the Treitschkes,' who used cloistered academic halls as forums 
of political propaganda. Although he was passionately concerned with 
the course of German policy, in theory he rigidly segregated his role as a 
professor and scientist from that of a publicist. Yet, when his friend 
Brentano, in Munich, asked him to accept a position, he answered that 
were he to accept any professorship, 'I would have to ask whether it would 
not be better to have someone who holds my views in Berlin at the 
present time as a counterweight against the absolute opportunism which 
now has the say there.' ^^ 

Throughout his life, Weber was a nationalist and believed in the 
mission of the Herrenvol\, yet at the same time he fought for individual 
freedom and, with analytic detachment, characterized the ideas of na- 
tionalism and racism as justificatory ideologies used by the ruling class, 
and their hireling publicists, to beat their impositions into weaker mem- 
bers of the polity. He had great esteem for the matter-of-fact conduct 


of labor leaders during the collapse of Germany, yet he lashed out against 
the doctrinal drill with which these same men domesticated the masses 
and trained them to believe in a future 'paradise' to be brought about 
by revolution. He was proud of being a Prussian officer, and yet as - 
serted in public that the Kaiser, his commander-in-chief, was somethin g 
of yv^hich all Germans should be ashamed . A Prussian officer and a 
member of a dueling corps, he nevertheless did not mind rooming in a 
Brussels hotel over which flew a red. International flag. A model of the 
self-conscious masculinity of Imperial Germany, he nevertheless encou r- 
a ged the first woman labor official in Germany and made vital speec hes 
to members of the woman's emancipation movement of the early twen - 
tjieth century. ^ 

Weber appears to have been an eminent academic teacher, and yet his 
health kept him from academic lectures for almost two decades. Al- 
though a scholar, he felt out of place in the academic chair and truly 
at home on the political platform. In his insistence on precision and 
balance, his prose is full of clauses and reservations, in the most schol- 
arly and difficult fashion. Yet at times he felt himself to be comparable 
to the demagogues of ancient Judea haranguing to the crowd in the 

Among those who had dealings with him, the figure of Weber was 
highly controversial. At Heidelberg, many of his colleagues saw him as 
a difficult person, who because of demanding conscience and rigidity of 
honor was highly inconvenient and somewhat troublesome. Perhaps he 
was seen as hypochondriac. In the eyes of many friends and disciples, he 
appeared as an overtowering intellect. A Viennese journalist describes 
him in the following cliches: 

Tall and fully bearded, this scholar resembles one of the German stone 
masons of the Renaissance period; only the eyes lack the naivete and sensu- 
ous joy of the artist. His gaze is from the innermost, from hidden passages, 
and it reaches into the greatest distances. His manner of expression corre- 
sponds to the man's exterior; it is infinitely plastic. We meet here an almost 
Hellenic way of seeing things. The words are simply formed, and, in their 
quiet simplicity, they remind us of Cyclopic blocks. 

A disciple in Munich, who was personally distant from Weber, wor- 
shiping him from afar, compared him to Diirer's knight: without fear 
or favor, taking a straight course between death and the devil. And Karl 
Jaspers saw him as a new type of man who had the poise to hold to- 


gether in synthesis the tremendous tensions of his own self as well as 
the confadictions of external public life without resorting to illusions. 
Every day that Weber 'wasted for things political' instead of objectifying 
himself seemed a pitiful loss to Jaspers. 

In spite of the pathos of objectivity that is felt so intensely by the 
student of Weber's work, it nevertheless contains passages that refer to 
Weber's image of himself. The most obvious of these are found in his 
characterization of certain Hebrew prophets.^" When the course of the 
war and the collapse of Germany confirmed what Weber had anticipated 
for two decades, and the German people alone were proclaimed guilty 
for all the misfortunes of the war, Weber felt that the Germans were a 
pariah peop le. During the course of his studies in ancient Judaism, in 
iQ ij5 and IQ17, he was profoundly moved by the analogies he saw be - 
tw een the situation of the ancient Hebrew peoples and modern Ger- 
m any. It wa s not only the public and historical situation he saw as 
parallel; in the personality of many prophets and in their irregular and 
compulsive psychic states, particularly of Jeremiah . Weber saw features 
he felt resembled his own. When he read passages of this manuscript to 
his wife, she was touched in immediately seeing that this reading was 
an indirect analysis of himself. 

Perhaps it was only in this fashion that Weber, who since childhood 
was incapable of directly revealing himself, could communicate his own 
self-image. Thus, what was most personal to him is accessible and at 
the same time hidden by the objectification of his work. By interpreting 
the prophets of disaster and doom, Weber illuminated his own personal 
and public experiences. 

This assimilation of his image of self into a historical figure stands 
in a broad tradition of humanism, historicism, and romanticism so char- 
acteristic of the nineteenth century. Eminent intellectuals and even states- 
men of that century often fashioned their images of themselves in the 
costumes of historical figures. Thus Napoleon simulated Alexander the 
Great; and the revolutionary republicans of the great upheavals saw 
themselves in terms of 'the lives of Plutarch.' In Germany, this illusionist 
tendency remained strong throughout the epoch of liberalism. Some of 
the best of German youth, among them Francis Lieber, went out to 
help the Greeks in their fight for liberation against the Turks. But the 
ragged horse trader of the Balkan mountains shattered the marble image 
of the ancient Greek. Historical illusions were used as a backdrop of one's 
life and perhaps to compensate for the banaHty of the Philistinism, which 


circumscribed the daily routine of powerless German professors with 
world-encompassing ideas. 

If the older Weber identified himself with Jeremiah in the humanist 
tradition of illusion, he well knew that he was in truth no prophet. When 
urged by an admiring young intelligentsia to expound his faith, he re- 
jected their pleas, asserting that such confession belongs to the circle of 
intimates and not the public. Only prophets, artists, and saints might bare 
their souls in public. For Weber, modern society is godless, and prophets 
as well as saints are singularly out of place. He only offered Isaiah's sug- 
gestion: 'He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? 
Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning com- 
eth, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.' 


If we are to understand Weber's biography as a whole, we must ex- 
amine his tensions and his repeated psychic disturbances. Several Unes 
of interpretation are possible; jointly or separately, they may offer an 

Max Weber may have been hereditarily burdened by a constitutional 
affliction, which undoubtedly ran through his family line. Some evi- 
dence for this interpretation, which is the simplest one, is readily at 
hand. Weber's wife was a distant relative of his, and male relatives of 
hers ended their lives in insane asylums. Furthermore, a cousin of his 
entered the asylum, to which Weber himself was sent during his most 
severe breakdown. 

If we are willing to see Weber's affliction as purely functional, we 
may then follow either one of two different lines of evidence: We may 
try to locate his personal difficulties in the private contexts of those dear 
to him: mother, father, loves, wife; or we may deal primarily with him 
in public contexts. 

With reference to his personal relations, we may recall that Weber 
was a quiet, observant, and prematurely intelligent boy, who must have 
been worried under the strain of the increasingly bad relation between 
his father and mother. His strong sense of chivalry was, in part, a re- 
sponse to the patriarchal and domineering attitude of his father, who 
understood his wife's love as a willingness to serve and to allow herself 
to be exploited and controlled by him. This situation came to a climax 
when Weber, at the age of 31, in the presence of his mother and his 


wife, saw fit to hold judgment over his father: he would remorselessly 
break all relations with him unless he met the son's condition: the 
mother should visit him 'alone' without the father. We have noted that 
the father died only a short time after this encounter and that Weber 
came out of the situation with an ineffaceable sense of guilt. One may 
certainly infer an inordinately strong Oedipus situation. 

Throughout his life, Weber maintained a full correspondence with 
his mother, who once referred to him as 'an older daughter,' She eagerly 
sought counsel with him, her first-born, rather than with her husband, 
in matters concerning the demeanor of her third son. One should also 
pay heed to what was, to be sure, a passing phase of young Weber's 
aspiration: his desire to become a real he-man at the university. After 
only three semesters, he succeeded in changing externally from a slender 
mother's boy to a massive, beer-drinking, duel-marked, cigar-puffing 
student of Imperial Germany, whom his mother greeted with a slap in 
the face. Clearly, this was the father's son. The two models of identifi- 
cation and their associated values, rooted in mother and father, never 
disappeared from Max Weber's inner life. 

A similar tension, and subsequent source of guilt, occurred when 
Weber found himself estranged from an earlier love, another cousin o£ 
his, whom both his mother and his maternal aunt favored. This situa- 
tion was all the more painful to him because his mother joyfully saw 
Marianne, his future wife, wooed by a close friend of Max. In marrying 
Marianne, Weber was thus beset by guilt from two sources: he was 
almost ready to resign his love in favor of his friend, and he was almost 
ready to marry a mentally burdened and unstable girl. His proposal let- 
ter to his wife, dealing with this situation, seems as much a confession 
of guilt as a love letter. And later letters to his wife are apologetic for 
sacrificing his marriage with her by allowing his energies to be used up 
in the 'inner treadmill' of his intellectual life. 

The Webers were childless, and he did not fail to assert his virility in 
public by summoning others to duels in a manner which stressed his 
special dignity as a Prussian officer. Yet at the same time, as a writer, 
he was ready publicly to deflate Prussian militarism and its officer- 
bureaucracy for standing behind such educational institutions as the 
dueling corps designed to 'break in' upper-class youth to the discipline 
required in the career, A profound individual humanism, the 'freedom 
of a Christian,' and the lofty heights of his ethical demands were derived 
from identification with his mother. 


We may shift from personal relations and the difficulties that may 
have arisen from them; Weber was also an intellectual involved in the 
political events of his day. He made matters of public concern his vol- 
untary burden. With an extraordinary sense of responsibility, he felt inti- 
mately called to politics. Yet he had no power and no position from 
which his word could tip the balance of policy. And tensions arose from 
this fact. 

Weber does not seem to have had much basis for his intense identifi- 
cation with Germany. He tore down the Junkers, the workers, as well 
as the spineless Philistines among the middle classes, who longed for a 
Caesar to protect them from the bogey of socialist labor and from the 
patriarchalism of the petty dynasties. When Weber traveled, his first 
idea was to get out of Germany. And only too frequently, with the 
resentment of the unsuccessful lover, he throws out angry words about 
turning his back forever upon what he felt to be a hopeless nation. 
The Kaiser, to whom he was bound by oath as a Prussian officer, was a 
constant object of his public contempt. 

Only rarely do we get a glimpse into what nourished his love of his 
country and people. At the Exposition in St. Louis he viewed the Ger- 
man exhibition of arts, crafts, and industrial products with pride, feel- 
ing that the skill, imagination, and artistic craftsmanship of the Germans 
were second to none. When he mingled with itinerant socialist workers 
in Brussels and was told that a good proportion of the most skillful 
tailors in Paris and of the most skilled cobblers in London were from 
German Austria, he took pride in belonging to a fellowship of self-for- 
gotten workers, who knew nothing better than devotion to the work 
at hand. 

This attitude enables us to understand how his own ascetic drive for 
work was linked with his belief that the most prominent traits of the 
German people were the plebeian qualities of commoners and worke rs, 
la cking the social graces of the Latin courtier a s well as the religious ly 
motivated discipline and conventionality of the Anglo-Saxon gentlem an. 
His own devotion to his work was a realization of his duty to the fel- 
lowship of Germans. At the end of November 1918, he wrote: 'One has 
seen all the weaknesses, but if one wishes, one may also see the fabulous 
capacity of work, the superbity and matter-of-factness, the capacity — not 
the attainment — of beautifying everyday life, in contrast to the beauty of 
ecstacy or of the gestures of other nations.' 


Just as his relation to his father was a source of guilt, so Weber de- 
veloped strong guilt feelings for living under the Kaiser: 

The measure of contempt given our nation abroad (Italy, America, every- 
where!), and after all deservedly so! — and this is decisive — ^because we tolerate 
this man's regime has become a factor for us of first-rate world political im- 
portance. Anyone who reads the foreign press for a few months must notice 
this. We are isolated because this man rules us in this fashion and because 
we tolerate it and whitewash it. No man or party who in any sense cultivates 
democratic, and at the same time national, political ideals should assume re- 
sponsibility for this regime, the continuance of which endangers our world 
position more than all colonial problems of any kind.^^ 

Surely Weber's life illustrates the manner in which a man's relation to 
political authority may be modeled upon his relation to family disci- 
plines. One has only to add, with Rousseau, that in the family the 
father's love for his children compensates him for the care he extends 
to them; while in the State the pleasure of commanding makes up for 
the love which the political chief does not have for his people.^* 

11. X oliticai (^ 


I n many ways, Max W eber's life and thought a re expressions of political 
events and concerns. His political stands, which must be understood in 
terms of private contexts as well as public happenings, make up a theme 
inextricably interwoven with Weber the man and the intellectual. For 
he was a political man and a political intellectual. We have noticed how 
the very young Weber felt that Cicero made a fool of himself in the 
face of a threatened political conspiracy. To ju dge poHtic^ an d rhetoric, 
in terms of co nsequences an d_to jTie.asuie_the_motives of men in terms of 
the intended or unintended results of their actions remained a constant 
principle of his political thinking. In this fundamental sense, Weber the 
scholar always wrote from the point of view of the active politician. 

His early political position was his father's NationaJ Liberalism. Un- 
der eminent leaders, this party had moved towards Bismarck during the 
'eighties. In this matter, they were compromised liberals: they wished 
'neither to follow nor to fight, but to influence Bismarck.' And they 
allowed Bismarck to fight the Kultur/{ampf against the Catholics and to 
suppress socialist labor. With such policies being followed, and with the 
several splits among the liberal and leftist camp, Bismarck could play 
off these parties against one another. 

At the age of 20, Weber was identified with the cause of National 
Liberalism, but he was cautious not to commit himself definitely to any 
specific party. He was watchfully interested in the political process as a 
whole and was an eager student of the possible motives of competing 
leaders. But he was no 'youthful enthusiast.' It was characteristic of this 
detachment that when the National Liberals helped Bismarck to pro- 
long the 'emergency law' against the socialists, Weber commented: 

If one wants to justify this law one has to take the point of view, perhaps 
not quite incorrect, that without this emergency law a considerable restric- 
tion of many accomplishments of public life would be inevitable, namely, free- 
dom of speech, assembly, and of association. After all, the Social Democrats, 



by their manner of agitation, were indeed going to compromise fundamental 
institutions of public life. . . However, when I think of the matter quietly, 
sometimes it seems to me as if equal rights for all might be preferable to 
everything else, and in this case the thing to do is to muzzle everybody rather 
than to put some in chains. The basic mistake, after all, seems to have been 
the Danaer present of Bismarck's Caesarism, namely, the universal franchise 
which was a pure murder of equal rights for all in the truest sense of the 

Weber's evaluation of Bismarck, as indicated in this passage, was not 
to change. He acknowledged and admired his political genius in relent- 
less pursuit of policy of unifying Germany and in attaining for the newly 
created state the position of a great power. However, Weber was far 
from any uncritical surrender to Bismarck; he did not heroize him; 
indeed, he had nothing but scorn for the essentially apolitical hero wor- 
ship of Bismarck that spread through the middle classes of Germany. 
Weber's, basic criticism of Bismarck was of his intolerance of independ-- 
ent-minded political leaders, that he surrounded himself with docile and 
obedient bureaucrats. 'The horrible destruction of independent convic- 
tions which Bismarck has caused among us is, of course, the main reason, 
or at least one of the main reasons, for what is wrong with our condi- 
tion. But, do we not bear at least the same guilt as he?' " 

The^attainmcnt and preservation of intellectual liberty appears to have 
been one of Weber's highest conscious values. He rejected, without 
reservation, BismarcVs Knltur\a7npj, just as much as he rejected the 
Prussian language-policy for Germanizing the Poles and irritating the 
Alsatians. Yet he called the progressives 'sterile,' especially in their heads- 
I-win-tails-you-lose budget figuring. 'One shivers to think that these 
people would be called upon to take Bismarck's place.' After Kaiser 
William II ascended to the throne and showed his tendency towards the 
personal assumption of power, Weber looked to the future with profound 
anxieties. 'These Boulangist, Bonapartist demonstrations are undesirable, 
to say the least.' ^ 

The first traces of Weber's shift away from the National Liberalism — 
which became more and more a creature of big business — and in the 
direction of a more progressive 'social liberalism' appears in 1887, when 
he was 23. At this time he seemed to feel that the state had an obligation 
towards the weakest social stratum, the metropolitan proletariat, which 
during the development of Berlin lived under the typical miserable con- 
ditions of early capitalism. This feeling of social responsibility was, after 


all, one of paternalism. Hence, Weber voted Conservative, though he did 
not join the Conservative party. 

His detailed studies of the Junker economy in East Elbian, Germany, 
undertaken during the early 'nineties at the instigation of a reform 
society, which included 'Professorial socialists,' were Weber's first eco- 
nomic publications. They established his reputation as an expert in 
agrarian problems. He was trying to get at the economic and social 
reasons for the displacement of the German population in the east by 
Polish-Russian settlers. He demonstrated that the real-estate and property 
interests of Junker capitalism were responsible for the depopulation of 
the German east, an area that at one time had been a densely populated 
peasant land, intermixed with estates. By breaking down official census 
statistics into small units, Weber showed that irresistible depopulation 
forces went on wherever large entailed estates came into being. At the 
same time, the agrarian capitalists imported Polish seasonal laborers, 
who, by virtue of their low standards of living and exploitability, dis- 
placed the German peasant population. 

Insight into this process placed Weber in political opposition to Prussia's 
ruling class and therewith in opposition to the class which, by virtue of a 
sham constitutional setup of Prussia, dominated the rest of Germany. 
His opposition to these landlords rested upon a belief that their interests 
ran counter to the interests of the nation. 'We wish to forge small 
peasants to the soil of the fatherland not by legal but by psychological 
chains. I say it openly: We wish to exploit their land-hunger in order to 
chain them to the homeland. And if we had to stamp a generation of 
men into the soil in order to guarantee the future of Germany, we would 
shoulder this responsibility.' * 

In the early 'nineties, Weber argued against historical materialism by 
playing up the inexhaustible complexity of causal pluralism. For example, 
he felt, for many historical reasons, that the wages of farm hands did not 
follow any economic law, least of all an 'iron one.' In his 1894 lecture at 
Freiburg, he held that national and ethnic diflferences in the competitive 
struggle for existence were more causally important than economic and 
class situations. Later his political and intellectual relations with the 
body of Marxist knowledge were to be quite different and much more 

Weber's political mood when he was thirty years of age is revealed by 
the following passage from his inaugural lecture at Freiburg: 


In the main, the fruits of all economic, social, and political endeavors of the 
present will benefit not living but future generations. If our work can and 
will have meaning, it can only attempt to provide for the future, that is, 
for our successors. However, no economic policy is possible on the basis of 
optimistic hopes for happiness. Lasciate ogni speranza [Man, if you enter 
here, leave all hopes outside] stands written over the door to the unknown 
future of human history. It is not a dream of peace and human happiness. 
The question is not how men in the future will feel, but rather who they 
will be. T hat is the question which concerns us when we think beyond the 
graves of our own generation. And in truth, this question lies at the root of 
every economic and political work. We do not strive for man's future well- 
being; we are eager to breed in them those traits with which we link the 
feeling that they constitute what is humanly great and noble in our na- 
ture. . . I n the last analysis, the processes of economic development are 
st ruggles for power. O ur ultimate yardstick of values is 'reasons of state,' and 
this is also the yardstick for our economic reflections. . .^ 

Thus, in the middle 'nineties, Weber was an imperialist, defending 
the power-interest of the national state as the ultimate value and using 
the vocabulary of social Darwinism. He warned that economic power 
and the call for political leadership of the nation did not always coincide. 
He called himself an 'economic nationalist,' measuring the various classes 
with the yardstick of the state's political interests. The acquisition of 
colonies, the saber-rattling speeches of the Kaiser, and the imperial 
grandeur — for these Weber had nothing but the disdain of the expert 
who knew that they were hopeless nonsense. 

It is dangerous and, in the long run, irreconcilable with the Interest of the 
nation if an economically sinking class holds political power in its hands. 
It is still more dangerous if those classes to whom economic power and 
therewith the claim for political authority is shifting are politically immature 
in their leadership of the state. Both are threatening Gerrpr^y'-at this time 
and, in truth, they provide the keys to the present danger of our situation.^ 

What was this 'dangerous situation' ."^ German foreign policy was being 
reoriented: Bismarck's treaty with Russia was not renewed, the oppor- 
tunity for an alliance with Great Britain was not seized, and a policy o£ 
planless drifting resulted. It was covered up by braggadocio, Kaiser-bluff, 
and led to the political isolation of Germany. The leading strata of this 
nation would not orient it towards the West or towards the East. Ger- 
man policies were thus erratically directed against everybody and a series 
of defeats was cloaked in boastfulness. 


It has been cogently argued that this fatal situation was the result 
of compromise between Western industrialism and Junker agrarianism. 
The National Liberals, of course, were the imperialists, the Pan-German- 
ists, the Anglophobes; their pride was hurt and they wanted 'to show the 
British' that Germans, too, could build ships. They pushed the navy 
program, which Tirpitz finally put over in one of the most adroit propa- 
ganda campaigns of modern history." They won the Junkers' co-operation 
for this course by granting them protectionist tariffs in 1902 against the 
imports of grain from the United States and Russia. The Junkers as such 
did not care for the graessliche Flotte, and, landlubbers as they were, 
they did not think much of over-seas empire, with its commerce and 
colonies. They remained provincial, they felt politically close to Russian 
Czarism, and they were suspicious of the interests of Western industry 
in naval construction, which masqueraded as the National Task. 

Both Junkers and industrialists, however, feared the mass organizations 
of the ascending Social Democrats, the clamor for democracy, and the 
attacks against the Prussian system of class suffrage. The compromise of 
the respective class interests of industrial National Liberals and agrarian 
Junker Conservatives was thus directed against the democratic and 
socialist Labor party. And their compromise led to the discarding of 
any foreign policy involving alliances with effective naval or military 

The political and economic compromises of the East and West led to 
the social fusion of Junkerdom with the new industrial stratum. It was 
symptomatic of these changes that Bertha Krupp, Alfred Krupp's only 
heir, married the nobleman, von Bohlen, an imperial career diplomat; 
and the Kaiser attended the wedding. The Crown also lost prestige 
through the scandalous exposures of the political police in the Tausch 
trial, the morally unsavory atmosphere of court circles exposed by Maxi- 
milian Harden in his crusade against Prince Eulenburg, the series of 
humiliations of the Kaiser in the foreign field, the more intense war 
scares, and the general armament and naval race. These were some of the 
events and trends that made Max Weber feel as if he were riding on 'an 
express train moving towards an abyss and not feeling certain whether 
the next switch has been set right.' 

Weber was friendly with a 'radical' parson, Naumann, who flirted 
with socialist ideas and who under Weber's influence turned nationalist. 
In 1894, Parson Naumann founded a 'little magazine' to which Weber 
contributed.^ For a few years, Weber was in contact with the attempts 


of these parsons, teachers, civil servants, artisans, and a few workers — a 
typical petty bourgeois circle — to organize a little party. They wished to 
create national unity by spreading a sense of social responsibility among 
bourgeois classes and training socialist labor for nationalism." Max 
Weber's mother and Mrs. Baumgarten forwarded Naumann's campaign 
for a seat in the Reichstag, Although he did not lose a friendly contact, 
Weber soon impatiently broke his active connection with this group. 

In 1897, Weber made a campaign speech in the Saar in the district of 
Baron von Stumm, the coal magnate, who was pressing for legislation to 
punish trade-union leaders in case of strikes. Although he spoke in favor 
of industrial capitalism, which he felt was indispensable for national 
power, he also believed strongly in 'individual liberty.' He had been a 
member of the Pan-Germanic League, but he broke with it in 1899 
'in order to gain my freedom' and because 'my voice does not count 
in its policy.' ^° 

In 1903, after the worst of his psychic collapses, he cut loose from 
and attacked the conservative romanticism behind which the material 
and political class interests of dynasty and Junkers were hidden. This was 
just before he left for America. After returning to Germany in 1905, his 
political interests were aroused by the first Russian revolution of 190^- 
Since he took the trouble to learn Russian, he was able to follow events in 
several Russian dailies. He was also in frequent conversations with the 
Russian political scientist, T . Kistiakov ski — one of the intellectual leader s 
o f leftist bourgeois liberalism in Russia — who worked for the revolution . 
The result of these studies was two exemplary essays in political sociology, 
which Weber published as special issues of the Archiv. By a sociological 
analysis of classes and parties in Russia, Weber — among other trains of 
thought — indicated that should the Czar fall, after a European war, and 
the extreme left come to power in another revolution, an unheard-of 
bureaucratization of the entire social structure of Russia might well result. 

Weber's intellectual production had begun again shortly after his re- 
turn from America in 1 904. This was a time of political crisis for Ge r- 
r nany , brought about in part by the speeches of the Kaiser and his 
excursions to Africa. By 1906 the entente cordial was shaping, and Ger- 
many's diplomatic isolation and decline from Bismarckian heights were 
obvious. The symbol of the nation, the Kaiser, had become the target of 
international ridicule. Weber saw the root of these difficulties in a politi- 
cal structure that prevented the efficient selection of responsible political 
leaders. He was grieved that Germany's sham constitutionalism made 


political careers unattractive to talented and eflFective men, who preferred 
to enter business or science. 

From such views as these, Weber moved slowly towards a 'democratic' 
stand, though of a somewhat unique and complex nature. He did not 
believe in democracy as an intrinsically valuable body of ideas: 'natural 
law,' 'the equality of men,' their intrinsic claim to 'equal rights.' He saw 
democratic institutions and ideas pragmatically; not in terms o f their 
'inner wor th' but in terms of thei r consequences in the selection of effi- 
cient political leaders. And he felt that in modern society such leaders 
must be able to build up and control a large, well-disciplined machine, 
in the American sense. The choice was between a leaderless democracy 
or a democracy run by the leaders of large-party bureaucr acies. 

For Weber, the universal franchise, the struggle for votes, and the free- 
dom of organization had no value unless they resulted in powerful 
political leaders willing to assume responsibility rather than evade it 
and cover up their deeds behind court cliques and imperial bureaucrats 
who happened to have the Kaiser's favor. 

Before Weber's critical examination, no single German stratum seemed 
to be satisfactory for the job at hand. Accordingly, he raised a critical 
voice, first of all against the head of the nation, the Kaiser, whom he 
scathingly derided as a dilettante covering behind divine right of kings. 
The structure of German party life seemed hopeless as a check on the 
uncontrolled power of a politically docile but technically perfected bureau- 
cratic machine. He pierced the radical phrases of the Social Democrats as 
the hysterical howling of powerless party journalists drilling the masses 
for an intellectual goosestep, thus making them more amenable to manip- 
ulation by the bureaucracy. At the same time, the Utopian comfort 
contained in revisionist Marxism's automatic drift into paradise appeared 
to substitute a harmless complacency for righteous indignation. And he 
thought that the Social Democrats' refusal to make any compromises 
with bourgeois parties and assume cabinet responsibilities was one of the 
factors blocking the introduction of constitutional government. Later 
political analyses made by Weber sprang from this desperate search for a 
stratum that would measure up to the political tasks of leadership in an 
era of imperialist rivalry. 

In the fall of 191 1, a militarist-minded official of a German university 
made a speech in which he chastised pacifist elements as 'silly' and spoke 
of the 'sentimentality for peace.' A general attending the beer festival 
that followed the speech saw fit to dub pacifists as 'men who wear trou- 



sers but have nothing in them and wish to make poHtical eunuchs out 
o£ the people.' ^^ When several professors of Freiburg defended these 
speeches against press attacks, Weber wrote a memorandum against what 
appeared to him as 'small-town stuff.' He warned that if Germany should 
have to go to war, 'her crowned dilettante' (the Kaiser) would interfere 
with the leadership of the army and ruin everything. It is interesting that 
Weber, a confirmed nationalist believing in force as the last argument of 
any policy, nevertheless submitted the following paragraph: 'To char- 
acterize a criticism of definite political ideals, no matter how high-minded, 
as an undermining of moral forces must call forth justified protests. In 
"ethics" the pacifists are undoubtedly our "betters." . . Policy making is 
not a moral trade, nor can it ever be.' ^" In spite of this appreciation of 
the e thical sincerity of such pacifists as Tolstoy^ we must recall Weber's 
ow n desire for personal participation in the w ar. 

Du ring the war, he was against the annexation of Belgium, but^ this 
is not to say that Weber had no imperialist aspirations. He cla mored for 
'military bases' as far flung as Warsaw and to the north of there. And | 
he wished the German army to occupy Liege and Namur for twenty * 

In October 1915 he wrote: 'Every victory brings us further from peace. 
This is the uniqueness of the situation.' He was beyond himself when 
Austria allowed Italy to break away from her. 'The entire statesmanship 
of the last twenty-five years is collapsing, and it is very poor satisfaction 
always to have said it. The war can now last forever.' He wrote a memo- 
randum addressed to the Government and to members of the German 
Parliament, but it remained on his own desk. In it are such statements 
as: 'I t is against German interests to force a peace of which the main re - 
sult would be that the heel of the German boot in Europe stands upon 
everyone's toes /^^ He saw that sheer prolongation of the war would 
b ring world industrial supremacy to America. H e was alarmed about the 
imperialism, which ran rampant through heavy industry and the princely 
houses. Desperately he wrote: 'I will learn Polish and then seek to make 
contacts with the Poles.' He asked the under-secretary of state for access 
to the official archives on Poland and to be allowed to contact Polish in- 
dustrialists. Although he used a member of the Catholic Center party as 
a front, he was of course refused. By March 1916, Weber was disgusted 
with 'the whole Berlin atmosphere, in which all talented people are in- 
capacitated by the resentful stupiditv which prevails in the Reich offices .' " 

Weber believed that the First World War was a result of a constella- 


tion of economic and political rivalries of nations. In so far as elements 
of 'guilt' might enter the picture, he thought that Germany was guilty 
of romantic and inefficient management of her affairs. He decried the 
aspirations of the war-party as idiotic and, from the very beginning, felt 
that it could only lead to disaster. He was particularly enraged by 
Tirpitz's naval policy, the sinking of the Lusitania, and the reliance 
upon the weapon of the submarine. He anticipated America's entrance 
into the war, and in February 1916 stated the following results of this 
development : 

First, that half of our merchant marine, one-quarter in American and one- 
quarter in Italian harbors (!), will be confiscated and used against us; thus 
at once the number of British ships will be increased — a matter which these 
asses [of the German navy] do not calculate. Second, we shall have 500,000 
American sportsmen as volunteers, brilliandy equipped, against our tired 
troops, a matter which these asses do not believe. Third, forty billion in cash 
will be available to our enemies. Fourth, three more years of war; thus, 
certain ruin. Fifth, Rumania, Greece, etc. against us. And all this in order 
that Herr von Tirpitz may show what he can do! Never has anything so 
stupid been thought of.^^ 

In October 1916, Weber spoke in a political meeting of progressive 
liberals on Germany among the Great Powers of Europe. In this speech 
he judged policy with the yardstick of international result: the geographic 
position of Germany in the midst of powerful neighbors should make 
for a policy of sober alliances rather than a policy of boastful vanity and 
conquest. In Weber's view, Russia was 'the main threat.' Accordingly, he 
wished an understanding with England. Events in Eastern Europe 
brought world-historical decisions to the fore, compared to which changes 
in Western Europe appeared trivial. The ultimate cause of the war was 
Germany]s late development as an industrial power-state. 'And w hy have 
we become a nation organized into a power state.''' he asked. 

Not for vanity, but for the sake of our responsibility to world history. The 
Danes, Swiss, Norwegians, and Dutch will not be held responsible by future 
generations, and especially not by our own descendants, for allowing, without 
a fight, world power to be partitioned between the decrees of Russian officials 
on the one hand and the conventions of Anglo-Saxon 'society' — perhaps with 
a dash of Latin raison thrown in — on the other. The division of world power 
ultimately means the control of the natu re of future culture . Future genera- 
tions will hold us responsible in these matters, and rightly so, for we are a 
nation of seventy and not seven millions.^" 


On 3 November 1918, the sailors at Kiel mutinied. The next day, 
Weber spoke in Munich on Germany's reconstruction. He was heckled 
by revolutionary intellectuals, among them the Russian Bolshevist Levien, 
as well as by veterans in the audience. Shortly afterwards a revolutionary 
government of workers and soldiers' councils was set up. 

Max Weber was against those professors who at the moment of col- 
lapse placed the blame upon the German home front by rationalizing the 
collapse as 'a stab in the back,' Yet he was also against 'the revolution,' 
which he called 'this bloody carnival' and which he felt could only secure 
worse peace terms than might otherwise have been possible. At the same 
time, he realized that the revolution could not lead to lasting socialistic 

His wife has stated that his sympathy with the struggle of the prole- 
tariat for a human and dignified existence had for decades been so great 
that he often pondered whether or not he should join their ranks as a 
party member — but always with negative conclusions. His reasoning, 
according to his wife, 'was that one could be an honest socialist, just 
like a Christian, only if one was ready to share the way of life of the 
unpropertied, and in any case, only if one was ready to forego a cultured 
existence based upon their work. Since his disease, this was impossible 
for Weber. His scholarship simply depended upon capital rent. Further- 
more, he remained personally an "individualist." ' 

He accompanied the German peace delegation to Versailles as an ex- 
pert. He suggested that 'the designated war criminals,' Ludendorff, 
Tirpitz, Capelle, Bethman, should voluntarily offer their heads to the 
enemy; only then, he thought, the German officer corps could again rise 
to glory. He wrote LudendorfT a letter to this effect, but Ludendorfl 
curtly refused. Weber then arranged to meet Ludendorfl personally and 
disputed with him for several hours. He reproached him with the politi- 
cal mistakes committed by the general staff and was in turn reproached 
by LudendorfT for the sins of the revolution and the new regime. Weber 
asked Ludendorff to offer his head to the enemy. 

ludendorff: How can you expect me to do anything of the sort? 

weber: The honor of the nation can only be saved if you give yourself up. 

ludendorff: The nation can go jump in the lake. Such ingratitude! 

weber: Nevertheless, you ought to render this last service. 

ludendorff: I hope to be able to render more important services to the nation. 

weber: In that case, your remark is not meant so seriously. For the rest, 


it is not only a matter of the German people but a matter of restoring 

the honor of the officer corps and of the army. 
ludendorff: Why don't you go and see Hindenburg? After all he was the 

General Field Marshal. 
WEBER : Hindenburg is seventy years of age, and besides, every child knows 

that at the time you were Number One in Germany. 
ludendorff: JThank goodness. 

The conversation soon drifted into politics, LudendorfiF blaming Weber 
and the Frankjurter Zeitung for the 'democracy.' 

weber: Do you believe that I think this swinish condition which we have 
at present is democracy.? 

ludendorff: If you talk that way, maybe we can reach an agreement. 

weber: But the preceding swinish condition was not a monarchy either. 

ludendorff: Then, what do you mean by democracy? 
t weber: In a democracy the people choose a leader in whom they trust. Then 
i the chosen leader says, 'Now shut up and obey me.' People and party 

I are then no longer free to interfere in his business. 

ludendorff: I could like such democracy. 

weber: Later the people can sit in judgment. If the leader has made mistakes 
— ^to the gallows with him! 

Weber was profoundly disappointed in Ludendorflf's human stature. 
'Perhaps,' he wrote, 'it is better for Germany that he does not give 
himself up. His personal impression would be unfavorable. The enemy 
would again find that the sacrifices of a war which put this type out of 
commission were worth their while. I now understand why the world 
defends itself against the attempts of men like him to place their heel 
upon the necks of others. If he should again mingle in politics, one will 
have to fight him remorselessly.' ^^ 

Max Weber thus looked upon German party Ufe with disdain. It struck 
him as petty and as suffocating in the atmosphere of guild squabbles. In 
this respect, he shared the attitude of Carl Jentsch.^® 

Having absorbed the Marxist criticism of 'bourgeois democracy,' 
Weber turned away from conservatism, Pan-Germanism, and monarchi- 
cal loyalties. He did so not because he had learned to believe in the in- 
trinsic value of democratic constitutional government as a 'government 
of the people, for the people, and by the people,' but because he believed 
constitutional democracy was the only solution for Germany's problems 
at home and abroad. In April 1917, he wrote: 


I would not fire a single shot and I would not buy a penny war bond if 
this war were anything but a national war; if it concerned the form of the 
state and possibly was a war for retaining this incapable monarchy and this 
apolitical bureaucracy, I don't give a damn for the form of the State, if only 
politicians were to rule the country and not such vain simpletons as Wil- 
liam II and his like. . . For me constitutions are techniques just like any 
other machines. I would be just as ready to strike against parliament and for 
the monarch if he were a politician or if he gave promise of becoming one.^^ 

Weber agitated for constitutional democracy because he hoped the 
Reichstag might become a balancing factor against the overwhelming 
weight of Prussian, and therewith German, bureaucracy and its mental- 
ity. A parliamentary competition of parties should bring political leaders 
of perspective and of passionate will to power. They should possess the 
technical know-how required for subduing the bureaucracy to their will. 
They should steer the bureaucracy, which for Weber made sense only as 
a technical means and never as a policy-making and politically responsible 
agency. In the best case, Weber hoped for the rise of charismatic leaders, 
though he felt the drift towards ever-denser and indestructible institu- 
tions in modern society narrowed the opportunity for this 'purely per- 
sonal element' to be decisive in the social structure. 

It is, of course, quite vain to speculate whether Weber with his 
Machiavellian attitude might ever have turned Nazi. To be sure, his 
philosophy of charisma — his skepticism and his pragmatic view of demo- 
cratic sentiment — might have given him such affinities. But h is human - 
i sm, his love for the underdog, his hatred of sham and lies, and his un- 
cea sing campaign against ra cism and anti-Semitic demagoguery would 
h ave made him a t least as sharp a 'critic,' if not a sharper one, of Hitler 
t han his brother A lfred has been. " ^~ 

Weber was far from following Troeltsch, who felt it necessary to 
speak of the 'most basic dispositions and volitional tendencies' ultimately 
underlying the social institutions, and ideological structures of history: 
'We have no words for this and, in this case, speak of races, of plastic, 
historical forces, or of primeval impulses.' ^^ Weber was far from this 
quest for a metaphysical anchorage in 'blind nature.' One may sum up 
Weber's dispersed and repeated disclaimers of racial arguments in the 
words of John Stuart Mill: 'Of all vulgar modes of escaping from the 
consideration of the effect of social and moral influences on the human 
mind, the most vulgar is that of attributing the diversities of conduct and 
character to inherent natural differences.'^^ 


Weber, one might say, was constitutionally incapable of making 'the 
intellectual sacrifice' that he believed all 'faith' demands. The nightmare 
of faith represented by modern fascism would hardly have intrigued as 
passionate a servant of rational social science as Max Weber. The basic 
style of thought that info rms his work is Western posit ivism, a heritage 
of the enlightenment. The basic volitional tendency of his thought is 
not, with the Ranke school, artistically to construct great tableaux of 
periods each of which is 'equally near to God,' but to fashion intel- 
lectual tools that would yield hindsights serviceable to foresights: savoir 
pottr prevoir, prevoir pour pouvoir — this impulse of Comte's positive 
philosophy was basic to Weber's outlook. Even though he stemmed from 
the 'historical school' he had no use for any edifying attitude towards 
history and its uniqueness. By-passing the hostility of historians, he po- 
litely suggested an enquiry into 'lawful regularities' as an 'auxiliary' 
science to history. He then proceeded to write social history in the grand 

Urbanism, legal history, economics, music, world religions — there is 
hardly a field which he left untouched. He thus continued the tradition 
of encyclopedic scholarship of Wundt and Ratzel, of Roscher and 

He worked through masses of data not in order to seek in the con- 
templation of man's historical estate a quietistic refuge for a homeless 
religious need, comparable to the Rousseauistic sentiment of nature, but 
rather in order to snatch from comparative enquiries a set of rules which 
would serve him in his search for political orientation in the contempo- 
rary world. That knowledge is somehow power — that is the impulse 
behind this quest of a powerless man for knowledge. And it is in view 
of this political concern that one may understand his intellectual orienta- 

111. Intellectual Orientations 

The intellectual situation in Germany during Weber's lifetime was 
singularly unfavorable for the development of academic sociology. His- 
toriography was largely dominated by the traditions of Hegel and Ranke, 
and conservative thinking was extremely potent in checking any de- 
velopment of theory in the social sciences. This was especially the case in 
economics. For in this field, the historical school discouraged systematic 
theory by opposing to it a massive treasure of historical detail, legal fact, 
and institutional description. 

Liberalism, on the other hand, had been developed by an intelligentsia 
that was independent o£~any entrepreneurial middle class. Compared 
with the Western countries, from which the models of thought for 
German liberalism had been derived, everything in Germany seemed 
topsy-turvy. The agrarian Junkers and their following clamored for 
Adam Smith and free trade, that is, for free grain exports to England 
rather than sales to the emerging industrial cities of Germany. The liberal 
Friedrich List advocated protective tariffs. Bismarck and the German \ 
princes, rather than the middle classes, had geared the German people i 
into a national state. 

The liberal academic intelligentsia had scarcely recovered from the 
shock of 1848 and the reaction to it, when Lassalle inaugurated a Socialist 
party that soon turned Marxist and attracted a brilliant group of journal- 
ists and organizers, historians and sociologists. These men took pride 
in their detachment from national loyalties. And, in Germany, Marxism 
was able to establish a tradition that tried to draw into its orbit the social 
and political history of all ages, the interpretation of literature and phi- 
losophy, as well as the ♦development of social and economic theory. 

In 1848 the liberals bad been afraid of the bearded, itinerant journey- 
men; under Bismarck they were afraid of Bebel and Liebknecht. Even 
in 1878 the doctrinaire liberal Eugen Richter advised his followers to 
vote for the Conservative rather than for the Social Democratic candi- 



date, should their choice be Hmited to these two.^ And ten years later, 
when Ferdinand Tonnies published his Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 
a work rightly considered basic for modern German sociology, he made 
himself a hopeless outsider from 'respectable' society. For sociology 
smacked of socialism. Even so discerning a mind as Ludwig Bamberger 
spoke of the 'internal affinity of militarism and socialism.' ^ Thus the in- 
tellectual traditions of Germany were channeled into conservative, liberal, 
and socialist ways of thought. 

German political parties, having no opportunity to wield power, re- 
mained doctrinaire parties of principled world views, each rather strictly 
oriented towards special classes and status groups. Agrarian conservatives 
were in coalition with Lutheran orthodoxy, urban merchants and bankers 
with liberal professional men, socialist wage workers with a low-browed 
intelligentsia who elaborated high-browed Marxism. The get-rich-quick 
atmosphere of the new industrialism, the intoxication of the parvenu 
with power after 1870, the Philistinism of the socially arriving burghers 
working their ways into dueling corps, baronial estates, and the officer 
corps — all this bred political apathy and fear of the upthrust of labor. 
And it led to a wide political accommodation to the power of the 

Within this context of conflicting classes, parties, and intellectual cur- 
rents. Max Weber worked out his intellectual orientations. He aimed 
at the comprehensiveness of a common ground. And he did so in spite 
of the intellectual departmentalization of sharply opposed world views. 
By reflecting upon some of his analytic conceptions and broad historical 
views, we may be able to indicate how conservative, liberal, and socialist 
elements of thought were assimilated, transformed, and integrated into 
the complex pattern of his work. As a liberal, fighting against both con- 
servative and Marxist thought. Max Weber opened himself to certain in- 
fluences from each of his opponents. 

i: Marx and Weber 

Upon taking over the editorship of the Archiv Fitr Sozialwissenschajt 
und Sozialpolitif{, Weber proposed systematically to devote attention to 
the questions the Marxists had raised. Much of Weber's own work is of 
course informed by a skilful application of Marx's historical method. 
Weber, however, used this method as a 'heuristic principle.' As a view 
of world history, Marxism seemed to him an untenable monocausal the- 


ory and thus prejudicial to an adequate reconstruction of social and his- 
torical connections. He felt that Marx as an economist had made the 
same mistake that, during Weber's days, anthropology was making: 
raising a segmental perspective to paramount importance and reducing 
the multiplicity of causal factors to a single-factor theorem. 

Weber does not squarely oppose historical materialism as altogether 
wrong; he merely takes exception to its claim of establishing a single 
and universal causal sequence. Apart from whether or not he 'under- 
stood' dialectical thought in his reduction of it to a causal proposition, 
the approach did prove eminently fruitful. 

Part of Weber's own work may thus be seen as an attempt to 'round 
out' Marx's economic materialism by a political and mihtary materialism. 
The Weberian approach to political structures closely parallels the Marx- 
ian approach to economic structures. Marx constructed economic periods 
and located major economic classes in them; he related the several social 
and political factors to the means of production. In political matters, 
Weber looks for the disposition over weapons and over means of admin- 

Feudalism, for example, is characterized by Weber in terms of pri- 
vate property of the means of military violence (self-equipped armies) 
and in the corporate appropriation of the means of administration. The 
'ruler' could not monopolize administration and warfare because he had 
to delegate the implements required for such a monopoly to the several 
privileged groupings. In time, these latter become 'owners' in their own 
right. This attention to the control of the material means of political 
power is as crucial for grasping the types of political structure as is 
attention to the means of production in the case of Marx for grasping 
economic structures.* 

Whereas Marx is less careful in distinguishing between economic 
power and political power, Weber, as a liberal, is eager to keep these 
spheres clearly distinct. Thus, his criticism of most Marxist contributions 
is that they fail soberly to distinguish between what is strictly 'economic,' 
what is 'economically determined,' and what is merely 'economically 
relevant.' Pilgrimages to Rome are certainly relevant for the money 
market, but that does not make them economic enterprises. The im- 
port of religious or of poHtical ideas for economic institutions does not 

* See in this volume: 'Politics as a Vocation,' 'Bureaucracy,' and 'The Social Psychology 
of World Religions.' 


thereby transform these ideas into economic factors: the question con- 
cerns their 'economic relevance.' 

Having focused upon the struggle for the means of poHtical rule, 
Weber sees European political history since the feudal period' as an in- 
tricate parade of rulers, each attempting to appropriate the financial and 
military means that in feudal society were relatively dispersed. In fact, 
Weber formulates the very concept of the 'state' in terms of a 'monopoly' 
of the use of legitimate force over a given territory. The territorial aspect 
enters into the conception of the state in that Weber distinguishes coastal 
and inland states, great river states, and states of the plains. The geo- 
graphical factor also seems to have a dispositional bearing in that the 
coastal, and hence maritime, state offers opportunities for city democracy, 
overseas empire; whereas the state of the plains — for example, Russia and 
the United States — seems to favor schematization and bureaucracy, al- 
though of course this tendency is not without exceptions. 

With Marx, Weber shares an attempt to bring 'ideological' phenomena 
into some correlation with the 'material' interests of the economic and 
political orders. Weber has a keen eye for 'rationalizations,' that is, for 
'fictitious superstructures,' and for incongruities between the verbal as- 
sertion and the actual intention. He fought imperial and bureaucratic 
bombast, and especially the phrases of the Pan-Germanists and/or revo- 
lutionary 'literati,' with a wrath comparable to Marx's campaign against 
Victorian cant. 

The debunking technique by which ideological assertions are revealed 
as false cloaks for less respectable interests is obvious in Weber's attack 
upon the revolutionary left of 1918. Weber expressly stated at this time 
that Marxism is not a carriage, which one may arrest at will: he wished 
to extend the debunking of ideologies to include the 'proletarian interest,' 
and he attempted to narrow down this interest to the interests of the 
^literati, politicians, and revolutionary guardsmen in 'the spoils of vic- 
tory.' His debunking of socialist aspirations is also obvious in his reflec- 
tions on imperialism. Here he obviously accepts national units as histori- 
cal ultimates that can never be integrated into more comprehensive and 
harmonious wholes. At best there will be strong socialist nation-states 
energetically exploiting weaker states. The concept of the nation and of 
national interest is thus the limit of Weber's political outlook and at the 
same time constitutes his ultimate value. Yet it is characteristic of his 
restless analysis that he breaks down 'national sentiment' into a com- 
posite of various communal sentiments and attitudes. 


In addition to this attention to 'interests' and 'ideologies,' Weber's 
sociology is related to Marx's thought in the common attempt to grasp 
the interrelations on all institutional orders making up a social structure. 
In Weber's work, military and religious, political and juridical institu- 
tional systems are functionally related to the economic order in a variety 
of ways. Yet, the political judgments and evaluations involved differ 
entirely from those of Marx. For Marx, the modern economy is basically 
irrational; this irrationality of capitalism results from a contradiction 
between the rational technological advances of the productive forces 
and the fetters of private property, private profit, and unmanaged market 
competition. The system is characterized by an 'anarchy of production.'. 

For Weber, on the other hand, modern capitali^mis not 'irrational'; 
indeed, its institutions appear to him as the very embodiment of ration- 
ality. As a type of bureaucracy, the large corporation is rivaled only by 
the state bureaucracy in promoting rational efficiency, continuity of oper- 
ation, speed, precision, and calculation of results. And all this goes on 
within institutions that are rationally managed, and in which combined 
and specialized functions occupy the center of attention. The whole 
structure is dynamic, and by its anonymity compels modern man to be- 
come a specialized expert, a 'professional' man qualified for the accom- 
plishment of a special career within pre-scheduled channels. Man is thus 
prepared for his absorption in the clattering process of the bureaucratic 

The concept of rational bureaucracy is played off against the Marxist 
concept of the class struggle. As is the case with 'economic materialism,' 
so with 'class struggle': Weber does not deny class struggles and their 
part in history, but he does not see them as the central dynamic. Nor 
does he deny the possibility of a socialization of the means of produc- 
tion. He merely relegates this demand to a far distant future and dis- 
putes any hope of 'socialism for our time.' He does not see anything 
attractive in socialism. In his eyes, socialism would merely complete in 
the economic order what had already happened in the sphere of political 
means. The feudal estates had been expropriated of their political means 
and had been displaced by the salaried officialdom of the modern bureau- 
cratic state. The state had 'nationalized' the possession of arms and of i/ 
administrative means. Socialization of the means of production would 
merely subject an as yet relatively autonomous economic life to the 
bureaucratic management of the state. The state would indeed become 7' 
total, and Weber, hating bureaucracy as a shackle upon the liberal indi- 


vidual, felt that socialism would thus lead to a further serfdom. Tor the 
time being,' he wrote, 'the dictatorship of the official and not that of 
the worker is on the march.' ^ 

Weber thus saw himself as holding paradoxical opinions. He could 
not but recognize the inevitability of bureaucratic management in public 
administration, in large capitalist enterprises, and in politically efficient 
party machines. During the war he personally scolded the stupidity of 
the Berlin bureaucrats, yet in his classic account of bureaucracy he is 
very far from John Stuart Mill's verdict against 'pedantocracy.' On the 
contrary, for Weber nothing is more efficient and more precise than 
bureaucratic management. Again in his pride in bureaucracy, 'in spite 
of all,' one may discern an attitude comparable to Marx's admiration for 
the achievements of bourgeois capitalism in wiping out feudal survivals, 
the 'idiocy' of rural life, and various spooks of the mind. 

Marx's emphasis upon the wage worker as being 'separated' from the 
means of production becomes, in Weber's perspective, merely one special 
case of a universal trend. The modern soldier is equally 'separated' from 
the means of violence; the scientist from the means of enquiry, and the 
civil servant from the means of administration. Weber thus tries to 
relativize Marx's work by placing it into a more generalized context and 
showing that Marx's conclusions rest upon observations drawn from a 
dramatized 'special case,' which is better seen as one case in a broad series 
of similar cases. The series as a whole exemplifies the comprehensive 
underlying trend of bureaucratization. Socialist class struggles are merely 
a vehicle implementing this trend. 

Weber thus identifies bureaucracy with rationality, and the process 
of rationalization with mechanism, depersonalization, and oppressive 
routine. Rationality, in this context, is seen as adverse to personal free- 
dom. Accordingly, Weber is a nostalgic liberal, feeling himself on the 
defensive. He deplores the type of man that the mechanization and the 
routine of bureaucracy selects and forms. The narrowed professional, 
publicly certified and examined, and ready for tenure and career. His 
craving for security is balanced by his moderate ambitions and he is re- 
warded by the honor of official status. This type of man Weber deplored 
as a petty routine creature, lacking in heroism, human spontaneity, and 
inventiveness : 'The Puritan willed to be the vocational man that we have 
to be.' 


2: Bureaucracy and Charisma: A Philosophy of History 

The principle of rationalization is the most general element in Weber's 
philosophy of historyJFor the rise and fall of institutional structures, the 
ups and downs of classes, parties, and rulers implement the general 
drift of secular rationalization. In thinking of the change of human atti- 
tudes and mentalities that this process occasions, Weber liked to quote 
Friedrich Schiller's phrase, the 'disenchantment of the world.' The extent 
and direction of 'rationalization' is thus measured negatively in terms 
of the degree to which magical elements of thought are displaced, or 
positively by the extent to which ideas gain in systematic coherence and 
naturalistic consistency. 

The urge towards such a comprehensive and meaningful interpreta- 
tion of the universe is ascribed to groups of intellectuals, to religious 
prophets and teachers, to sages and philosophers, to jurists and experi- 
mental artists, and finally, to the empirical scientist. 'Rationalization,' 
socially and historically differentiated, thus comes to have a variety of 
meanings. In this connection Weber makes a masterful contribution to 
what has come to be known as the ^sociology of knowledge.' * 

Weber's view of 'disenchantment' embodies an element of liberalism 
and of the enlightenment philosophy that construed man's history as a 
unilinear 'progress' towards moral perfection (sublimation), or towards 
cumulative technological rationalization. Yet his skeptical aversion to any 
'pHiIos6phic~af~eIement in empirical science precluded any explicit con- 
structions of historical time in terms of 'cycles' or 'unilinear' evolution. 
'Thus far the continuum of European culture development has known 
neither completed cyclical movements nor an unambiguously oriented 
"unilinear development." ' * We nevertheless feel justified in holding 
that a unilinear construction is clearly implied in Weber's idea of the 
bureaucratic trend. Even so 'inward' and apparently subjective an area 
of experience as that of music lends itself to a sociological treatment 
under Weber's concept of 'rationalization.' The fixation of clang pat- 
terns, by a more concise notation and the establishment of the well- 
tempered scale; 'harmonious' tonal music and the standardization of the 
quartet of wood winds and string instruments as the core of the sym- 
phony orchestra. These are seen as progressive 'rationalizations.' The 

* We have included one chapter from Weber's study of China for the sake of acquaint- 
ing the reader with this aspect of his work. 



musical systems of Asia, of preliterate Indian tribes, of Antiquity, and 
of the Middle East are compared in regard to their scope and degree 
of 'rationalization,' The same comparative focus is of course used in the 
account of religious systems, as may be seen in the typological sketch 
contained in 'The Social Psychology of World Religions.' 

This process of rationalization is punctured, however, by certain dis- 
continuities of history. Hardened institutional fabrics may thus disinte- 
grate and routine forms of life prove insufficient for mastering a growing 
state of tension, stress, or suffering. It is in such crises that Weber intro- 
duces a balancing conception for bureaucracy: the concept of 'charisma.' 

Weber borrowed this concept from Rudolf Sohm, the Strassburg 
church historian and jurist. Charisma, meaning literally 'gift of grace,' 
is used by Weber to characterize self-appointed leaders who are fol- 
lowed by those who are in distress and who need to follow the leader 
because they believe him to be extraordmarily qualified. The founders 
of world religions and the prophets as well as military and political 
heroes are the archetypes of the charismatic leader. Miracles and revela- 
tions, heroic feats of valor and baffling success are characteristic marks of 
their stature. Failure is their ruin. 

Although Weber is aware of the fact that social dynamics result from 
many social forces, he nevertheless places great emphasis upon the rise 
of charismatic leaders. Their movements are enthusiastic, and in such 
extraordinary enthusiasms class and status barriers sometimes give way 
to fraternization and exuberant community sentiments.^ Charismatic 
heroes and prophets are thus viewed as truly revolutionary forces in 

Bureaucracy and other institutions, especially those of the household, 
/are seen as routines of workaday life; charisma is opposed to all institu- 
tional routines, those of tradition and those subject to rational manage- 
ment. This holds for the economic order: Weber characterizes conquista- 
dores and robber barons as charismatic figures. When used in a strictly 
technical manner, the concept of charisma is free of all evaluations. Stefan 
George as well as Jeremiah, Napoleon as well as Jesus Christ, a raving 
berserk warrior of Arabia as well as the founder of Mormonism — all these 
are typified as charismatic leaders, for they have in common the fact that 
</ people obey them because of faith in their personally extraordinary quali- 

A genuinely charismatic situation is direct and inter-personal. In the 
contrast of the everyday life of institutions with the personalized and 


spontaneous nature of charismatic leadership, one may readily discern 
the heritage of liberalism that has always confronted similar dichotomies: 
mass versus personality, the 'routine' versus the 'creative' entrepreneur, the 
conventions of ordinary people versus the inner freedom of the pioneer- 
ing and exceptional man, institutional rules versus the spontaneous indi- 
vidual, the drudgery and boredom of ordinary existence versus the 
imaginative flight of the genius. In spite of the careful nominalism of 
his method, Weber's conception of the charismatic leader is a continua- 
tion of a 'philosophy of history' which, after Carlyle's Heroes and Hero 
Worship, influenced a great deal of nineteenth-century history writing. 
In such an emphasis, the monumentalized individual becomes the sover- 
eign of history. 

Weber's conception of the charismatic leader is in continuity with the 
concept of 'genius' as it was applied since the Renaissance to artistic and 
intellectual leaders. Within the confines of 'moral' history, W. E. H. 
Lecky broadened the conception in such a way as to apply it to leaders 
of human conduct rather than merely to creators of symbols. Not only 
men^of ideasJbuLJdeal men thus came into focus, a s the following pas- 
sage indicatGfrfp, v- 

There arise from time to time men who bear to the moral condition of 
their age much the same relations as men of genius bear to its intellectual 
condition. They anticipate the moral standard di a later age, cast abroad con- 
ceptions of disinterested virtue, of philanthropy, or of self-denial that seem 
to have no relation to the spirit of their time, inculcate duties and suggest 
motives of action that appear to most men altogether chimericaU Yet the 
magnetism of their perfections tells powerfully upon their contemporaries. 
An enthusiasm is kindled, a group of adherents is formed, and many are 
emancipated from the moral condition of their age. Yet the full effects of such 
a movement are but transient. The first enthusiasm dies away, surrounding 
circumstances resume their ascendency, the pure faith is materialised, en- 
crusted with conceptions that are alien to its nature, dislocated, and distorted, 
till its first features have almost disappeared. The moral teaching, being un- 
suited to the time, becomes inoperative until its appropriate civilisation has 
dawned; or at most it faintly and imperfectly filters through an accumulation 
of dogmas, and thus accelerates in some measure the arrival of the condition 
it requires. ''^ 

It is clear that Lecky was interested in the genius as an extraordinary 
man who transcends the bounds of everyday routines; and in this, his 


^ Statement foreshadows one of the key theories of Weber: the routiniza- 
tion of charisma. 
I Like Lecky, Weber sees the genuine charismatic situation quickly give 
way to incipient institutions, which emerge from the coohng off of ex- 
traordinary states of devotion and fervor. As the original doctrines are 
democratized, they are intellectually adjusted to the needs of that stratum 
^which becomes the primary carrier of the leader's message. If these ideas 
are not adaptable in this way, then, regardless of their intrinsic merit, 
either their message will fail to influence the conduct of everyday life 
or those whom they do influence will remain enclosed in a special way 
of life and alien to the larger social body. The religions of India, accord- 
ing to Weber, have very often ended up as the doctrines of such aristoc- 
racies of salvation.* 

Emphasis upon the 'sovereignty of the charismatic man' does not 
minimize the mechanics of institutions; on the contrary, by tracing out 
the routinization of charisma, Weber is able to assign a heavy causal 
weight to institutional routines. Thus he retains a social determinism 
by emphasizing charisma's routinization. His handling of this problem 
testifies to his constant endeavor to maintain a causal pluralism and to 
bring the economic order into the balance. 

In general, Weber's construction of historical dynamics in terms of 
charisma and routinization is an attempt to answer the paradox of 
unintended consequences. For the charisma of the first hour may incite 
the followers of a warrior hero or prophet to forsake expediency for ulti- 
mate values. But during the routinization of charisma, the material in- 
terests of an increased following are the compelling factor, 
fc-^ A charismatic movement may be routinized into traditionalism or into 
\ bureaucratization. Which course is taken does not depend primarily 
upon the subjective intentions of the followers or of the leader; it is 

y . dependent upon the institutional framework of the movement, and espe- 
? cially upon the economic order. 'The routinization of charisma, in quite 
essential respects, is identical with adjustment to the conditions of the 
economy, that is, to the continuously effective routines of workaday life. 
In this, the economy leads and is not led.' ^ Just as in this particular con- 
text a leading role is given to the economy, so does the very title of his 
key work. Economics and Society, bespeak an appreciation of the de- 
termining weight of the economic bases. 

* See chapter xi, 'The Social Psychology of World Religions.' 


The 'philosophical' element in Weber's construction of history is this \ 
antinomic balance of charismatic movements (leaders and ideas) with A 
rational routinization (enduring institutions and material interests). | 
Man's spontaneity and freedom are placed on the side of heroic enthusi- I 
asm, and thus there is an aristocratic emphasis upon elites ('virtuosos'!). / 
This emphasis is intimately associated with Weber's attitude towards"^ 
modern democracy, which we have already indicated. 

Yet Weber sees in the concept of 'personality' a much-abused notion 
referring to a profoundly irrational center of creativity, a center before 
which analytical inquiry comes to a halt. And he combats this poeticized 
and romantic element." For his conceptual nominalism and his prag- 
matic outlook are opposed to all reification of 'unanalyzed' processes. The 
ultimate unit of analysis for him is the understandable motivations of "^ 
the single individual. His concepts are analytical tools with which he»-^ 
reconstructs various mechanisms. They are not descriptive categories, with 
which one tries to 'taste' the color and grasp the surface image of the 
'spirit of the times.' They are not concepts that contemplate the supposed 
substances of great men and epochs. In fact, despite Weber's emphasis 
on charisma, he is not likely to focus on 'the great figures of history.' 
Napoleon, Calvin and Cromwell, Washington and Lincoln appear in his 
texts only in passing. He tries to grasp what is retained of their work x/^ 
in the institutional orders and continuities of history. Not Julius Caesar, 
but Caesarism; not Calvin, but Calvinism is Weber's concern. In order 
to understand this fully, we have to understand his conceptual tools: 
the constructed type, the typological series, the comparative method. j[ 

3: Methods of Social Science , '^^ii 

Weber's methodological reflections are clearly indebted to the philos- , 
ophy of the enlightenment. His point of departure and the ultimate unit ( 
of his analysis is the individual person: 

Interpretative sociology considers the individual [Einzelindtviduum] and 
his action as the basic unit, as its 'atom' — if the disputable comparison for 
once may be permitted. In this approach, the individual is also the upper 
limit and the sole carrier of meaningful conduct. . . In general, for sociology, 
such concepts as 'state,' 'association,' 'feudalism,' and the like, designate 
certain categories of human interaction. Hence it is the task of sociology to 
reduce these concepts to 'understandable' action, that is, without exception, 
to the actions of participating individual men.^" 



The 'Robinson-Crusoe approach' of the classical economists and the 
rationalist philosophers of the contract is echoed in this emphasis upon 
the individual. But within Weber's thought such emphasis stands in 
opposition to the tradition of Hegel and Ranke. 

This latter tradition attempts to 'interpret' the individual person, insti- 
tution, act, or style of work by seeing it as a 'document,' 'manifestation,' 
or an 'expression' of a larger morphological unit that underlies particular 
data. 'Interpretation' thus consists in understanding the union of the 
more comprehensive totality with its part. The aspect partakes of the 
quality of the whole. Thus Sombart, writing a book on The Jews and 
Economic Life, tries to show the contribution and the paramount signifi- 
cance of Jewry for the rise and workings of modern capitalism by 'under- 
standing' Jewry and capitalism as partaking of the same 'spirit.' This 
mode of 'understanding' the particular by seeing it as a document of an 
underlying whole is rooted in German romantic and conservative thought 
— a style that was elaborated in great detail and with surprising subtlety 
and fruitfulness by Wilhelm Dilthey. 

Max Weber incorporated the problem of understanding in his socio- 
logical approach, which, as he was prone to emphasize, was one type of 
sociology among other possibilities. He therefore called his perspective 
'interpretative' or 'understanding' sociology. It is characteristic of his 
rational and positivist position that he transformed the concept of under- 
standing. 'Understanding' remained for him, however, a unique ap- 
proach of the moral or cultural sciences, which deals with man rather 
than with other animals or with lifeless nature. Man can 'understand' 
or attempt to 'understand' his own intentions through introspection, and 
he may interpret the motives of other men's conduct in terms of their 
professed or ascribed intentions. 

Weber distinguishes different 'types' of motivated actions. Character- 
istically he rated as the most 'understandable' type those actions which 
are in the nature of rational expediencies, and of which the conduct of 
the 'economic man' is a prime example. 

Less 'rational' actions are typed by Weber in terms of the pursuit of 
'absolute ends,' as flowing from affectual sentiments, or as 'traditional.' 
Since absolute ends are to be taken as 'given' data by the sociologist, an 
action may be rational with reference to the means employed, but 'irra- 
tional' with respect to the ends pursued. 'Affectual' action, which flows 
purely from sentiment, is a less rational type of conduct. And finally, ap- 
proaching the 'instinctual' level, there is 'traditional' conduct: unreflective 


and habitual, this type is sanctified because it 'has always been done' and 
is therefore deemed appropriate. These types of 'actions' are construed 
operationally in terms of a scale of rationality and irrationality. A typo- 
logical device rather than a 'psychology' of motivations is thus described. 
This nominalist approach, with its emphasis upon the rational relations 
of ends and means as the most 'understandable' type of conduct, distin- 
guishes Weber's work from conservative thought and its documentary 
'understanding' by assimilating the singularity of an object into a spirit- 
ualized whole. Yet, by emphasizing the understandability of human 
conduct, as opposed to the mere causal explanation of 'social facts' as in 
natural science, Weber draws the line between his interpretative sociology 
and the 'physique sociale' in the tradition of Condorcet, which Comte 
called sociologie^^ and Durkheim worked out in such an eminent man- 
ner. It has correctly been observed that the basic types of social structure 
that Weber uses — 'society,' 'association,' and 'community' — correspond 
closely with his 'types of action' — the 'rationally expedient,' the 'affective,' 
and the 'traditionalist.' ^^ 

Were one to accept Weber's methodological reflections on his own 
work at their face value, one would not find a systematic justification 
for his analysis of such phenomena as stratification or capitalism. Taken 
literally, the 'method of understanding' would hardly allow for Weber's 
use of structural explanations; for this type of explanation attempts to 
account for the motivation of systems of action by their functions as go- 
ing concerns rather than by t he subjective intentions of the individuals 
who act them out. 

According to Weber's method of understanding, we should expect him 
to adhere to a subjective theory of stratification, but he does not 
do so. Similarly, one may point to Weber's refutation of a widespread 
German stereotype of America as a nation of 'atomized individuals': 'In 
the past and up to the very present, it has been a characteristic precisely 
of the specifically American democracy that it did not constitute a form- 
less sand heap of individuals but rather a buzzing complex of strictly 
exclusive, yet voluntary, associations.' * Again, Weber sees the drift 
towards Athenian democracy as determined by a change in military or- 
ganization: Democracy emerged when the older army of Hoplites gave 
way to Navalism. Similar structural explanations are displayed in the 
manner in which he links the spread of bureaucracies with the task of 

* See pp. 307 ff., this volume. 


administering large inland empires, such as Rome and China, Russia 
and the United States. 

In using the structural principle of explanation, Weber comes quite 
close to the analytical procedure of Marxist thought, which, in a 'de- 
spiritualized' way, makes use of the originally Hegelian and conservative 
way of thinking. 

I n his methodological emphasis upon understanding- the individual as 
the ultimate unit of expl anation, Weber is polemical against this organi- 
cist thought of conservatism as well as the Marxist use of objective mean- 
ings of social action irrespective of the awareness of the actor. 

Like Hegel and Adam Smith, Marx ascribed meanings to the process 
of social interactions. Adam Smith's 'unseen hand' and Hegel's 'ruse of 
the idea' appear in Marx's system as an objective logic of dynamic insti- 
tutions that work themselves out behind the backs of the actors. In so far 
as men know not what they do, they realize the blind forces of society. 
Although these forces are the work of men, they simply remain, in 
Veblen's term, 'opaque.' Thus Marx measures the subjective notions of 
the actors of the system against the objective meaning as revealed by 
scientific study. And in the comparison and typical incongruity between 
what men think they do and the objective social functions of their acts, 
Marx locates the ideological nature of the subject's 'false consciousness.' 

In his writings on method, Weber rejects the assumption of any 'ob- 
jective meaning.' He wished to restrict the understanding and interpre- 
tation of meaning to the subjective intentions of the actor. Yet, in his 
actual work, he is no less aware than is Marx of the paradoxical fact 
that the results of interactions are by no means always identical with 
what the actor intended to do. Thus the Purit^an wished to serve G od, 
b ut he helped to bring about modern capitalism . The point is also shown 
in the following passage concerning capitalism and the individual: 

This masterless slavery in which capitalism enmeshes the worker or the 
debtor is only debatable ethically as an institution. In principle, the personal 
conduct of those who participate, on either the side of the rulers or of the 
ruled, is not morally debatable, as such conduct is essentially prescribed by 
objective situations. If they do not conform, they are threatened by economic 
bankruptcy which would, in every respect, be useless.^^ 

One might easily accumulate statements from Weber's work that 
would reinforce this point, as the translations in the present volume make 
clear. It is understandable that Weber felt it equally wrong to consider 


his work as an idealist interpretation of history as it was to consider 
it as a case of historical materialism. 

The nominalism of Weber's method may be understood in terms of V 
his attempt to avoid a philosophical emphasis upon either material or \ 
ideal factors, or upon either structural or individual principles of ex- \ 
planation. His attachment to Western positivist thought is shown in his I 
scorn for any 'philosophical' or 'metaphysical' elements in the social / 
sciences. He wants to give these sciences the same matter-of-fact approach / 
with which the natural sciences approach nature. / 

A quantitative method goes hand in hand with such a conception and 
stands in opposition to a perspective in which all phenomena are seen as 
qualitatively unique entities. For Weber, historical and social uniqueness 
results from specific combinations of general factors, which when iso- 
lated are quantifiable. Thus the 'same' elements may be seen in a series 
of other unique combinations. '. . . Of course, in the last analysis, all 
qualitative contrasts in reality can somehow be comprehended as purely 
quantitative differences made up of combinations of various single 
factors.' ^* He does not say that quality can be 'reduced' to quantity; in- 
deed, as a nominalist, he is quite sensitive to the qualitative uniqueness 
of cultural reality and to the qualitative differences resulting from quan- 
titative changes. For instance: 'From our special point of view, where 
the increased fear of the world has led to a flight from occupational 
pursuits in the private economy, pietism not only turns into something 
differing in degree but into an element differing in quality.' ^^ 

The much-discussed 'ideal type,' a key term in Weber's methodologi- 
cal discussion, refers to the construction of certain elements of reality 
into a logically precise conception. The term 'ideal' has nothing to do 
with evaluations of any sort. For analytical purposes, one may construct 
ideal types of prostitution as well as of religious leaders. The term does 
not mean that either prophets or harlots are exemplary or should be 
imitated as representatives of an ideal way of life. 

By using this term, Weber did not mean to introduce a new con- 
ceptual tool. He merely intended to bring to full awareness what social 
scientists and historians had been doing when they used words like 'the 
economic man,' 'feudalism,' 'Gothic versus Romanesque architecture,' 
or 'kingship.' He felt that social scientists had the choice of using logically 
controlled and unambiguous conceptions, which are thus more removed 
from historical reality, or of using less precise concepts, which are more I 
closely geared to the empirical world. Weber's interest in world-wide 


comparisons led him to consider extreme and 'pure cases.' These cases 
became 'crucial instances' and controlled the level of abstraction that 
he used in connection with any particular problem. The real meat of 
history would usually fall in between such extreme types; hence Weber 
would approximate the multiplicity of specific historical situations by 
bringing various type concepts to bear upon the specific case under his 

The quantitative approach to unique cultural constellations and the 
conception of ideal types are intimately hnked with the comparative 
method. This method implies that two constellations are comparable in 
terms of some feature common to them both. A statement of such 
common features implies the use of general concepts. The manner in 
which Weber construes the world religions as variant interpretations of 
'senseless suffering' displays his technique of arranging 'cases' on a typo- 
logical scale.* The same technique is at work in his typology of capital- 
ism, built along a scale of different avenues for profit-opportunities. As 
general concepts, ideal types are tools with which Weber prepares the 
descriptive materials of world history for comparative analysis. These 
types vary in scope and in the level of their abstraction. When Weber 
characterizes ' democracy' a s ' a minimization of power,' he has the b road- 
est formulation, and the least specific historically. Several techniques of 
minimizing power, such as short terms of office, checks and balances, 
thq referendum, and so on, are possible in particular historical cases. 
These cases are worked into sub-types of democracy. By incorporating 
selected historical features into the general conception of democracy, he 
is able to restrict this general type and approximate historical cases 
more closely. 

His concern with specific historical problems and his interest in a com- 
parative sociology of a generalizing nature are thus related; the difference 
between them is one of emphasis. By the use of a battery of ideal types, 
he builds up a conception of a particular historical case. In his compara- 
tive studies, he uses the same ideal type conceptions, but he uses history 
as a storehouse of examples for these concepts. In short, the respective 
research interest — in elaborating a concept or in constructing a historical 
object — determines his procedure. 

(In any case, Weber is concerned with using generalized conceptions 
n order to understand society as subject to lawful regularities. For such 

* See chapter xi, 'The Social Psychology of World Religions.' 


regularities are necessary in order to satisfy an interest in causation. To 
understand a sequence of regular events causally, one must examine 
comparable conditions. Thus, in an attempt to validate his causal analy- 
sis of religion and capitalism in the Occident, Weber examined many 
other civilizations. Although capitalist beginnings could be observed 
in these other civilizations, capitaHsm in the Western sense did not 
emerge. Weber wished to find those factors in other civilizations which 
blocked the emergence of capitalism, even though there were many 
favorable conditions present for its emergence. By such a comparative 
analysis of causal sequences, Weber tried to find not only the neces- 
sary but the sufficient conditions of capitalism. Only in the Occident, par- 
ticularly where inner-worldly asceticism produced a specific personality 
type, were the sufficient conditions present. In his pluralism, he naturally 
did not consider this type of personality the only factor involved in the 
origin of capitalism; he merely wished to have it included among the 
conditions of capitalism. 

4: The Sociology of Ideas and Interests 

The discussion of bureaucratic institutions and personal leaders, of 
workaday routines and extraordinariness, is paralleled by Weber's con- 
ception of the relations between ideas and interests. Both Marx and 
Nietzsche had contributed to a theory of the function and content of 
ideas; both of them shifted the traditional emphasis upon the content 
of ideas to an emphasis upon the pragmatic connection of ideas with 
their results. They developed techniques for interpreting ideas in terms 
of their intended or actual service rather than in terms of their face value. 

Marx viewed ideas in terms of their public function in the struggles 
of classes and parties. Nietzsche approached ideas in terms of their 
psychological service to the individual thinker, or at least when he did 
speak of the public context, his sociological tools were so crude that only 
the psychological mechanisms were fruitfully brought out in his analysis. 
If for Marx ideas of practical import became ideologies as weapons in 
the struggles of groups, for Nietzsche ^ they turned into the rationaliza- 
tions of individuals, or at best of 'masters and slaves.' Marx commented 
that ideas become material forces as soon as they take hold of the 
masses; he linked the historical vitality of ideas to their role in justifying 
economic interests. Nietzsche modified Matthew's statement, 'He who 
humbles himself shall be raised,' into 'He who humbles himself wants 


to be raised.' Thus he ascribed voHtions to the speaker which lay be- 
neath the content of his ideas. ' "I did that," says my memory, "I could 
not have done that," says my pride and remains inexorable. Eventually — 
the memory yields.' ^^ 

Weber attempts to incorporate the points of view both of Marx and 
of Nietzsche in his discussion: With Marx, he shares the sociological 
approach to ideas: they are powerless in history unless they are fused 
with material interests: And with Nietzsche, he is deeply concerned 
with the importance of ideas for psychic reactions.* 

Yet, in contrast to both Nietzsche and Marx, Weber refuses to con- 
ceive of ideas as being 'mere' reflections of psychic or social interests. All 
spheres — intellectual, psychic, political, economic, religious — to some ex- 
tent follow developments of their own. Where Marx and Nietzsche are 
quick to see a correspondence between ideas and interests, Weber is also 
eager to state possible tensions between ideas and interests, between one 
sphere and another, or between internal states and external demands. 
iThus, in analyzing Hebrew prophecy, he seeks to balance psychological 
and historical influences: 

In any case, one can hardly assume that an unambiguous psychic determi- 
nation of 'political hypochondria' has been the source of the prophets' stand. 
The prophecy of doom has to be deduced, to a large extent, from the psychical 
disposition of the prophets, as determined by constitutional endowments and 
personal experiences. Yet, it is no less certain that the historical destinies of 
Israel have indeed given the prophecies of doom their place in religious de- 
velopment. And this is so, not only in the sense that tradition has of course 
preserved those oracles of the prophets that were fulfilled, which have ap- 
peared to be fulfilled, or whose advent could still be expected. The increas- 
ingly unshatterable prestige of prophecy in general has rested upon those 
few cases that were terribly impressive for the prophet's contemporaries, 
and in which the prophets by their success were unexpectedly in the right.^^ 

The decisive conception by which Weber relates ideas and interests 
is that of 'elective affinity,' rather than 'correspondence,' 'reflection,' or 
'expression.' For Marx, ideas 'express' interests; thus, the hidden God 
of the Puritans expresses the irrationality and anonymity of the market. 
For Nietzsche, asceticist Christianity 'reflects' the resentment of the 
slaves, who thus 'express' their 'revolt in morals.' For Weber, there is 
hardly ever a close connection between the interests or the social origin 

* A brief discussion of Nietzsche's theory of resentment will be found in chapter xi, 
'Social Psychology of World Religions,' and chapter vii, 'Class, Status, Party.' 


of the speaker or of his following with the content of the idea during 
its inception. The ancient Hebrew prophets, the leaders of the Reforma- 
tion, or the revolutionary vanguard of modern class movements were 
not necessarily recruited from the strata which in due course be- 
came the prime bearers of their respective ideas. Only during the process 
of routinization do the followers 'elect' those features of the idea with 
which they have an 'affinity,' a 'point of coincidence' or 'convergence.' 

There is no pre-established correspondence between the content of an 
idea and the interests of those who follow from the first hour. But, in 
time, ideas are discredited in the face of history unless they point in the 
direction of conduct that various interests promote. Ideas, selected and 
reinterpreted from the original doctrine, do gain an affinity with the 
interests of certain members of special strata; if they do not gain such an 
affinity, they are abandoned. Thus by distinguishing the phases of the 
personal and charismatic origin of ideas and their routinization and 
social impact, Weber is able to take into account a number of complica- 
tions, which are reflected in changing shades of meaning. Both the ideas 
and their publics are seen as independent; by a selective process ele- 
ments in both find their affinities. 

Throughout his Hfe, Max Weber was engaged in a fruitful battle 
with historical materialism. In his last course of lectures in Munich at 
the time of the Revolution, he presented his course under the title, 'A 
Positive Critique of Historical Materialism.' Yet there is a definite drift 
of emphasis in his intellectual biography towards Marx. 

When writing the Protestant Ethic, Weber was eager to emphasize 
the autonomous role of ideas in the origin of modern capitalism — 
though not, of course, in the sense of Hegel. He felt that modern capi- 
talism in its beginnings required a certain type of personality. This 
personality type, in turn, was psychologically construed as a result of 
belief in a set of ideas that unwittingly resulted in the development 
of those specific personality traits useful in capitalist conduct. Thus in 
giving 'a spiritualist construction' of the background of modern capital- 
ism, Weber begins with religious conceptions. In his last essays, how- 
ever, he begins his analysis of China, for instance, with chapters on the 
economic basis. The more embittered Weber became with German 
politics, the more he came to appreciate the weight of material interests 
in th e success of ideas , however lofty in content and intention they might 
be. Thus during the war he wrote: ' Not ideas, but material and ideal 
interests directly govern man's conduct. Yet very frequently the "world 


images" which have been created by "ideas" have, like switchmen, de- 
termined the tracks along which action has been pushed by the dynamic 
o£ interests.' ^® 

Such passages remind one of the mechanical metaphors of Marx, 
with his revolutions as the 'locomotives of history,' or of Trotsky with 
his 'ideological switchmen.' ^^ Mechanical imagery of this sort seems 
to stand opposite the organic metaphors of growth and development 
favored by more conservative writers. Where images of organic nature 
are utilized they are not images of gradualism and vegetative growth, 
but of incubation and birth. 

In Weber's handling of specific ideas, one may discern different levels 
of sociological interpretation at work. In a sweeping way, he locates 
entire 'world images' as symbol constructions associated with the social 
conditions of specific strata. Thus he sees a connection between the r e- 
li gious conception of a quietistic and passive Being and the mystic 
state s and contemplative techniques of genteel a nd literary intelle ctuals, 
e specially in India and China. He tries to establish an intimate relation 
between the nature of a predominant psychological state, the structure 
of an act of perception, and the meaning of an object. All three aspects, 
in turn, are facilitated by and have an affinity to the social-historical situ- 
ation of the intellectuals within the social structure. This historical struc- 
ture, by itself, does not determine the direction in which the strata of 
intellectuals may elaborate their conceptions; rather it permits or blocks 
the attempt, characteristic of intellectuals, to tackle the senselessness of 
suffering and of the world.\ln the Occident, intellectuals also experi- 
mented in the direction of mystic contemplation; but such endeavors, 
according to Weber, were repeatedly frustrated. A more volitional and 
active search for meaning became predominant in the Occident. ^ 

The active interests of Occidental intellectuals in mastering political 
events have been connected with the volitional and anthropomorphic 
image of a wrathful yet benign God. The main stream of Christianity 
is thus seen in continuity with Hebrew prophecy. The prophets of 
ancient Judaism are characterized as active demagogues, who by the 
power of the word aimed at a mastery of the course of historical events. 
The priesthood was not strong enough to suppress effectively such self- 
appointed religious demagogues. 

Weber, in his sociology of knowledge, was not, however, exclusively 
concerned with such world images. He also concerned himself with 


many particular ideologies, which he saw as->f land, as well as com- 
motivate materially interested strata. matically led raids on 

Here are some examples: The acceptance of the reiiyres may be ex- 
o£ the Crusades is linked to the imperialist aspirations oiiered princes, 
who were interested in securing fiefs for their progeny. Calry of the 
of course, displayed other motives. The emergence and diffusion Hemi- 
men dicant monk order, or Franciscans, is linked to the interests otite s 
ul a^ power leaders in exploiting their skill as unpaid teachers, or as 
ur ban demagogues who during crises were able to tame urban masses. 
Whether or not these mendicant monks would have survived against 
the opposition of the Pope and the priesthood without having had these 
skills is an open question. The same situation applies to the Jesuit order, 
after the Pope outlawed them and Frederick the Great gave them asylum 
in Prussia. The advocacy of the intrinsic value of a particular language 
is often associated with the material interests of publishers in national- 
ism. The commands of modern bureaucracies assume the form of 
'general rules' rather than of 'particular decrees,' as may be seen in con- 
nection with their general rationalizing tendency. When Weber deals 
with political problems, he seems to use this mode of interpreting ideas 
as simple justifications. When he handles religious problems, he is more 
likely to emphasize the concept of 'elective affinity.' 

5: Social Structures and Types of Capitalism 

The pragmatic view of ideas, which Max Weber shares with Karl 
Marx and John Dewey, is associated with a refutation of the Hegelian 
tradition. Weber thus rejects such conceptions as 'national character' 
and 'folk spirit,' which have permeated German historiography and 
which, in conservative thinking, have served as tools of interpretation. 
He construes social dynamics in terms of a pluralistic analysis of factors, 
which may be isolated and gauged in terms of their respective causal 
weights.. He does this by comparative analyses of comparable units, 
which are found in different cultural settings. 

This does not mean that he has no total conceptions of social struc- 
tures. On the contrary, the more Weber comes to an analysis of the con- 
temporary era, the more ready he is to speak of capitalism as a unit. 
The unit is seen as a configuration of institutions, which by the logic 
of their own requirements increasingly narrow the range of effective 
choices open to men. 


For Weber, a unit, such as capitalism, is not an undifferentiated whole 
to be equated with 'an acquisitive instinct' or with 'pecuniary society.' 
Rather it is seen, as Marx and Sorel saw it, as a scale of types, each of 
which has peculiar institutional features. The further back Weber goes 
historically, the more he is willing to see capitalism as one feature of a 
historical situation; the more he approaches modern industrial capitalism, 
the more willing he is to see capitalism as a pervasive and unifying affair. 
High capitalism absorbs other institutions into its own image, and nu- 
merous institutional crisscrosses give way to a set of parallel forces head- 
ing in the same direction. This direction is towards the rationalization 
of all spheres of life. In such an increasingly unilinear construction of 
history, one may discern a sublimated conception of the liberal notion 
of 'progress.' 

In conformity with liberal thinking, which is interested in separating 
politics and economics, ^ypbf-r d jsringiiishes between two basic types o f 
capitalism : 'p olitical capitalism' and 'modern indu strial' or 'bo urgeois 
cap itali^p .' * Capitalism, of course, can only emerge when at least the 
beginnings of a money-economy exists. 

In political capitalism, opportunities for profit are dependent upon the 
preparation for and the exploitation of warfare, conquest, and the pre- 
rogative power of political administration. Within this type are imperial- 
ist, colonial, adventure or booty, and fiscal. In addition, with a view of 
locating the peculiar marginal situation of trading groups, Weber speaks 
of pariah capitalism. This concept is applied to Occidental Jewry from 
later Antiquity to the present, and to the Parsees in India. Although 
functionally indispensable, for reasons of ethnic and religious back- 
ground, such strata are socially segregated and reduced to a pariah status. 
By imperialist capitalism, Weber refers to a situation in which profit 
interests are either the pacemakers or the beneficiaries of political ex- 
pansion. The greatest examples are the Roman and the British Empires, 
and the competitive imperialism of the present epoch. Colonial capi tal- 
is m, intimately connected with political imperialism , refers to those 
capitalisms which profit from the commercial exploitation of political 
prerogatives over conquered territories. Such prerogatives include po- 
litically guaranteed trading monopolies, shipping privileges, the politi- 

* 'In my opinion Sombart has, in important respects, quite adequately characterized 
what should be understood by the early capitalist epoch. There are no "definitive" his- 
torical concepts. I do not share the vanity of contemporary authors who conduct them- 
selves in the face of a terminology used by some one else as if it were his toothbrush.' 
Archiv jiir Soziahvissenschaft tind Sozialpolitik., 1906, p. 348. 


cally determined acquisition and exploitation of land, as well as com- 
pulsory labor. Adventure capitalism refers to charismatically led raids on 
foreign countries for the sake of treasure. Such treasures may be ex- 
tracted from temples, tombs, mines, or the chests of conquered princes, 
or they may be raised as levies on the ornaments and jewelry of the 
population. The heroic period of the conquest of the Western Hemi- 
sphere by the Spaniards, the overseas enterprises of the Italian city-states 
during the Middle Ages, the Hanseatic League, and the merchant ad- 
venturers of England are pre-eminent historical examples. Whereas ad- 
venture capitalism emphasizes the discontinuous and charismatic nature 
of these operations, the term booty capitalism emphasizes the objectives 

In certain contexts, Weber is eager to distinguish the extraordinary 
capitalist from the routine activities of the workaday enterpriser; in the 
former case he speaks of c harismatic capitalist s as ' economic supermen.^' 
Such figures have occurred in many historical contexts: in the new 
empire of ancient Egypt, in ancient China, India, in western Antiquity, 
in the waning of the Middle Ages, as well as in nineteenth-century 
America. The Fuggers and Rockefeller, Mellon, and Cecil Rhodes are 
examples. The difference between such charismatic capitalists and 'sober 
bourgeois' capitalists has been overlooked quite frequently in contro- 
versies over the problem of the Protestant ethic and its causal relevance 
for the rise of 'modern capitalism.' "° 

Fiscal capitalism, as used by Weber, refers to certain profit opportuni- 
ties that accrue from the exploitation of political prerogatives. The most 
important phenomenon of this type is the farming out of tax collection 
to private enterprisers, as was the rule in ancient Rome and the ancien 
regime in France. The leasing of the sale of indulgences to Italian mer- 
ch ants as compensations for their loans to the Vatican; the entrep reneurial 
organization of military and naval forces by condottieri; the leasing of 
the right to com money to private enterprisers, such as Jacob Fugger, are 
further examples. 

These analytical types of capitalism serve to emphasize different 
aspects of historical situations that are themselves quite fluid. The unique- 
ness of modern industrial capitalism consists in the fact that a specific 
production establishment emerges and is enlarged at the expense of pre- 
capitalist production units. This production establishment has its legal, 
political, and ideological preconditions, but it is nevertheless historically 
unique. It is based on the organization of formally free labor and the 


fixed plant. The owner of the plant operates at his own risk and pro- 
duces commodities for anonymous and competitive markets. His opera- 
tions are usually controlled rationally by a constant balancing of costs 
and returns. All elements, including his own entrepreneurial services, 
are brought to book as items in the balance of his accounts. 
I X,ike Marx, Weber insists upon locating the basic institutional unit 
■ of modern capitalism in production rather than in commerce or finance. 
A system of capitalism grows from these units of production. This 
system undergoes various historical phases; its highest stage is char- 
acterized by the separation of ownership and management and the 
financing of corporations by sales to the public of shares in the possible 
returns from future operations. For this late stage of capitalism, Weber 
accepts Sombart's term, 'High Capitalism.' 

Unlike Marx, however, Weber is not interested in investigating the 
problems of capitalist dynamics. The problem of the business cycle and 
the capitalist crises, which were so essential for Marx's characterization 
of capitalism as 'an anarchy of production,' have httle part in Weber's 
analysis. This omission is of consequence for Weber's conception of ra- 
tionality in modern society. For Marx, the rational elements of society 
were the means which served, yet which increasingly contradicted, un- 
mastered and irrational elements. For Weber, capitalism is the highest 
form of rational operations; yet it is implemented by two irrationalities: 
the remains of an originally religiously anchored attitude: the irrational 
calling and drive for continuous work; and modern socialism, seen as the 
'utopia' of those who cannot stand up under what seems to them the 
senseless injustice of an economic order which makes them dependent 
upon propertied entrepreneurs. Being keenl) aware of the institutional 
pressures of modern capitalism, Weber, at this point, is ready to make 
use of the category of social totalities as 'going concerns.' Once in the 
saddle, for instance, capitalism no longer needs religious motives. 

In sociological theory, a 'subjective' theory of the stratification of 
capitalism has often been opposed to an 'objective' one. The classic Eng- 
Hsh economists, prominently Ricardo, as well as Marx represented the 
objective theory, defining 'class' in terms of typically recurrent incomes: 
rent, profit, wage. Accordingly, for them, landlord, entrepreneur, and 
worker make up the class structure. It does not matter whether these 
agents conceive of themselves as Britons, highlanders, or what not; their 
class positions are strictly located by their place and function within 
the objective economic order. Marx, adhering to this tradition, added a 


historical aspect by emphasizing the specifically modern nature of 
bourgeois and proletarian classes. 

Subjective theories of class, on the other hand, have placed great em- 
phasis upon the psychic traits of 'class members.' Those holding this 
subjective theory have been eager to speak of the 'fourth estate' as 
emerging side by side w^ith the older estates. Conceptions of respecta- 
bility and of social honor, descriptive elements of political and religious 
opinions, and sentiments corinec'ted with local and regional ways of life 
displace the strict theoretical approach of the economists. It was left to 
Moeller van den Bruck, author of The Third Reich, to carry the sub- 
jective theory of classes to absurdity: 'He is a proletariat who wants to 
think of himself as one. The proletarian consciousness makes man a 
proletariat, not the machine, not the mechanization of labor, not wage- 
dependency on the capitalist mode of production.' ^^ 

Max Weber is not ready to let man overcome hard economic fate by 
such acrobatics of will power. Class situations are determined by the 
relations of the market; in the last analysis, they go back to the differ- 
ences between the propertied and the non-propertied. He thus shares 
with the objective school the emphasis upon the economic order and 
the strict distinction between objectively characterized positions and a 
variety of shifting and subjective attitudes that may be related to such 

In locating the class problem in the market and in the streams of 
income and property, Weber points towards production and its modern 
unit, the capitalist enterprise. He is prepared to give full credit to Marx 
for his insight into the historical nature of the modern class structure. 
Only when subjective opinions can be attributed to men in an objective 
class situation does Weber speak of 'class-consciousness'; and when he 
focuses upon problems of 'conventions,' 'styles of life,' of occupational 
attitudes, he prefers to speak of prestige or of 'status groups.' These latter 
problems, of course, point towards consumption, which, to be sure, de- 
pends upon income derived from production or from property, but 
which goes beyond this sphere. By making this sharp distinction between 
class and status, and by differentiating between types of classes and 
types of status groups, Weber is able to refine the problems of stratifica- 
tion to an extent which thus far has not been surpassed.* 

* See chapter vii, 'Class, Status, Party,' for his analjsis. 

70 the man and his work 

6: Conditions of Freedom and the Image of Man 

The habit of the modern pohtical inteUigentsia of cloaking the aspira- 
tions of their parties under historical necessity, and of advancing such 
constructions with the pathos of 'iron necessity,' is characteristic of con- 
servatism as well as Marxism. In both cases the concept of freedom fol- 
lows Hegel's 'Fata nolentem trahunt, volentem ducunt' (The fates drag 
the one who does not will; they lead the one who does). On the political 
right, the pre-eminent prophet of doom was Oswald Spengler, whose 
morphological construction of culture cycles Weber criticized as arbi- 
trary intuitions exploiting historical literature for non-scientific ends. 

Weber's liberal heritage and urge prevented him from taking a 
determinist position. He felt that freedom consists not in realizing alleged 
historical necessities but rather in making deliberate choices between open 
alternatives. The future is a field for strategy rather than a mere repeti- 
tion or unfolding of the past. Yet the possibilities of the future are not 
infinite, nor are they clay in the hands of the wilful man. 

Weber saw social life as a polytheism of values in combat with one 
another, and choices were possible among these values.* The decision- 
making, morally responsible individual is, of course, a specifically modern 
and Occidental type of personality. This man can be more than a 
mere cog in his occupational groove. If he is responsible, he will have to 
make informed decisions. To Weber, sociological knowledge is of a 
kind that the complexity of modern civilization requires of one who 
would take intelligent stands on public issues. Such responsible decisions 
are equally remote from the emotional fanaticism of followers of dema- 
gogues as from the cynical sophistication of the snob or the blase smug- 
ness of the Philistine. 

As he was not willing to see bureaucrats as harbingers of freedom, 
Weber felt that the field of responsible freedom was shrinking. He saw 
himself, in this connection, as an old-fashioned liberal, unafraid of being 
on the defensive or of swimming against the stream. The following pas- 
sage, which we reproduce at length, may illustrate Weber's fears as 
well as his assertion of the conditions of modern freedom. It was written 
in 1906. 

* See chapter v, 'Science as a Vocation,' and chapter xiii, 'Rehgious Rejections of the 


The opportunities for democracy and individualism would look very bad 
today were we to rely upon the lawful effects of material interests for their 
development. For the development of material interests points, as distinctly 
as possible, in the opposite direction: in the American 'benevolent feudalism,' 
in the so-called 'welfare institutions' of Germany, in the Russian factory con- 
stitution . . . everywhere the house is ready-made for a new servitude. It 
only waits for the tempo of technical economic 'progress' to slow down and 
for rent to triumph over profit. The latter victory, joined with the exhaustion 
of the remaining free soil and free market, will make the masses 'docile.' 
Then man will move into the house of servitude. At the same time, the in- 
creasing complexity of the economy, the partial governmentalization of eco- 
nomic activities, the territorial expansion of the population — these processes 
create ever-new work for the clerks, an ever-new specialization of functions, 
and expert vocational training and administration. All this means caste. 

Those American workers who were against the 'Civil Service Reform' 
knew what they were about. They wished to be governed by parvenus of 
doubtful morals rather than by a certified caste of mandarins. But their pro- 
test was in vain. 

In the face of all this, those who constantly fear that in the world of the 
future too much democracy and individualism may exist and too little author- 
ity, aristocracy, esteem for office, or such like, may calm down. Only too much 
provision has been made to see to it that the trees of democratic individualism 
do not shoot into the sky. According to all experience, history relentlessly 
gives rebirth to aristocracies and authorities; and those who deem it necessary 
for themselves, or for 'the people,' may cling to them. If only material con- 
ditions and interest-constellations directly or indirectly created by them 
mattered, then every sober reflection would convince us that all economic 
weathercocks point in the direction of increasing servitude. 

It is utterly ridiculous to see any connection between the high capitalism 
of today — as it is now being imported into Russia and as it exists in Amer- 
ica — with democracy or with freedom in any sense of these words. Yet this 
capitalism is an unavoidable result of our economic development. The ques- 
tion is: how are freedom and democracy in the long run at all possible under 
the domination of highly developed capitalism? Freedom and democracy 
are only possible where the resolute will of a nation not to allow itself to be 
ruled like sheep is permanently alive. We are 'individualists' and partisans 
of 'democratic' institutions 'against the stream' of material constellations. He 
who wishes to be the weathercock of an evolutionary trend should give up 
these old-fashioned ideals as soon as possible. The historical origin of modern 
freedom has had certain unique preconditions which will never repeat them- 
selves. Let us enumerate the most important of these: 

First, the overseas expansions. In the armies of Cromwell, in the French 


constituent assembly, in our whole economic life even today this breeze from 
across the ocean is felt . . . but there is no new continent at our disposal. 
Irresistibly the point of gravity of the population of Western civilization ad- 
vances toward the great inland areas of the North American continent on 
the one side and of Russia on the other. This happened once before, in late 
antiquity. The monotonous plains of Russia and the United States facilitate 

Second, the uniqueness of the economic and social structure of the early 
capitalist epoch in western Europe. 

Third, the conquest of life by science, 'the self-realization of the spirit.' 
The rational construction of institutional life, doubtless after having de- 
stroyed innumerable 'values,' today, at least in principle, has done its work. 
In the wake of the standardization of production, it has made the external 
way of life uniform. Under present conditions of business, the impact of such 
standardization is universal. Today, science itself no longer creates universal 

Finally, certain conceptions of ideal values, grown out of a world of defi- 
nite religious ideas, have stamj)ed the ethical peculiarity and cultural values 
of modern man. They have done so by working with numerous political con- 
stellations, themselves quite unique, and with the material preconditions of 
early capitalism. One need merely ask whether any material development or 
even any development of the high capitalism of today could maintain or create 
again these unique historical conditions of freedom and democracy in order 
to know the answer. No shadow of probability speaks for the fact that 
economic 'socialization' as such must harbor in its lap either the development 
of inwardly 'free' personalities of 'altruistic' ideals."^ 

The defensive pessimism for the future of freedom, which is displayed 
in this passage and which is a major theme of Weber's work, is rein- 
forced by the fate he sees for charisma in the modern world. Although 
he gives a quite nominalist definition of charisma, it rs clear that the 
concept serves him as a metaphysical vehicle of man's freedom in history. 
That freedom, as carried by charisma, is doomed is evident by his nostal- 
gic remark concerning the French Revolution. After tracing and. classify- 
ing modern liberties, Weber indicates that such liberties find their ulti- 
mate justification in the concept of the natural law of reason; and then: 
'The charismatic glorification of "reason" found its characteristic expres- 
sion in Robespierre's apotheosis. This is the last form which charisma 
has assumed in its long road of varied and rich destinies.' ^^ Weber's 
concern with freedom was not only historical; it influenced his image 
of contemporary man as an individual. 


He conceived of individual man as a composite of general character- 
istics derived from social institutions; the individual as an actor of social 
roles. However, this holds only for men in so far as they do not- 
transcend the routines of everyday institutions. The concept of charisma 
serves to underline Weber's view that all men everywhere are not to be 
comprehended merely as social products. 

Just as for George H. Mead the T is ordinarily in tension with the social 
roles derived from the expectations of others, so for Weber the potentially 
charismatic quality of man stands in tension with the external demands 
of institutional life. For Mead, the tension between the I and the role- 
demands is resolved in the creative response of the genius. For Weber, 
the response of the charismatic leader to distress unifies external demands 
and internal urges. In a broad sense, one may say that externality is 
identified with constraint and charisma with freedom. Weber's concep- 
tion of human freedom thus partakes of the humanist tradition of 
liberalism which is concerned with the freedom of the individual to 
create free institutions. Having incorporated the Marxist critique of capi- 
talism, he sees the economic system as a compulsive apparatus rather 
than as the locus of freedom. 

For Weber, capitaHsm is the embodiment of rational impersonality; 
the quest for freedom is identified with irrational sentiment and privacy. 
Freedom is at best a tarrying for loving companionship and for the ca- 
thartic experience of art as a this-worldly escape from institutional 
routines. It is the privilege of the propertied and educated: it is freedom 
without equality. 

In this conception of freedom as a historically developed phenomena, 
now on the defensive against both capitalism and bureaucracy, Weber 
represents humanist and cultural liberalism rather than economic liberal- 
ism. The humanist tradition in which Schiller wrote that 'Der Mensch 
ist freigeschaffen, ist frei, und wiird' er in ketten geboren' is evidenced in 
Weber's concern with the decline of the cultivated man as a well-rounded 
personality in favor of the technical expert, who, from the human point 
of view, is crippled.* Weber's own work is a realization of his self-image 
as a cultivated man concerned with all things human. And the decline of 
the humanist and the ascendancy of the expert is another documentation 
for Weber of the diminished chances for freedom. 

In terms of these two types of men, Weber sees modern civilization 
as unique in world history. Past civilizations produced various types of 

* See chapter viii, 'Bureaucracy.' 


humanist elites: in China, the mandarin, a stratum of gentlemanly 
literati; in antiquity, a leisured stratum o£ athletic and cultured men; in 
England, the modern conventional gentlemen, a result of compromises 
between 'merry old England' and middle-class Puritanism consummated 
in the masculine club; in Latin civilizations, the French cavalier and the 
Italian cortegiano, compromises between court nobilities and urban pa- 
tricians, consummated in the salon of the lady. Such cultivated types 
are now unfit for the management of economic and political affairs; they 
are being displaced by the specialist bureaucrat and the professional poli- 
tician. Weber gave little weight to followers of artistic and literary cult 
leaders, who must belong to or depend upon circles of rentiers, or else 
serve the literary fashions promoted by shrewd publishers. 

In contrast to the liberalism of Kant and Fichte, and some modern 
American educators. Max Weber saw education and the social produc- 
tion of personalities as dependent upon politics and economics. His pes- 
simism about political and economic freedom is thus supplemented by 
his pessimism about the realms of art, cultivation, and the personality 
types possible for contemporary man. 



IV. Politics as a Vocation 

This lecture, which I give at your request, will necessarily disappoint 
you in a number of ways. You will naturally expect me to take a posi- 
tion on actual problems of the day. But that will be the case only in a 
purely formal way and toward the end, when I shall raise certain ques- 
tions concerning the significance of political action in the whole way of 
life. In today's lecture, all questions that refer to what policy and what 
content one should give one's political activity must be eliminated. For 
such questions have nothing to do with the general question of what 
politics as a vocation means and what it can mean. Now to our subject 

What do we understand by politics? The concept is extremely broad 
and comprises any kind of independent leadership in action. One speaks 
of the currency policy of the banks, of the discounting policy of the 
Reichsbank, of the strike policy of a trade union; one may speak of the 
educational policy of a municipality or a township, of the policy of the 
president of a voluntary association, and, finally, even of the policy of a 
prudent wife who seeks to guide her husband. Tonight, our reflections 
are, of course, not based upon such a broad concept. We wish to under- 
stand by politics only the leadership, or the influencing of the leadership, 
of a political association, hence today, of a state. 

But what is a 'political' association from the sociological point of view? 
What is a 'state'? Sociologically, the state cannot be defined in terms of 
its ends. There is scarcely any task that some political association has not 
taken in hand, and there is no task that one could say has always been 
exclusive and peculiar to those associations which are designated as po- 
litical ones: today the state, or historically, those associations which have 
been the predecessors of the modern state. Ultimately, one can define 

'Politik als Beruf,' Gesammelte PoUtische Schriften (Muenchen, 1921), pp. 396-450. 
Originally a speech at Munich University, 191 8, published in 191 9 by Duncker & Hum- 
blodt, Munich. 



the modern state sociologically only in terms o£ the specific means 
peculiar to it, as to every political association, namely, the use of physical 

'Every state is founded on force,' said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That 
is indeed right. If no social institutions existed which knew the use of 
violence, then the concept of 'state' would be eliminated, and a condi- 
tion would emerge that could be designated as 'anarchy,' in the specific 
sense of this word. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the 
only means of the state — nobody says that — but force is a means specific 
to the state. Today the relation between the state and violence is an 
especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions — be- 
ginning with the sib — have known the use of physical force as quite 
normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human com- 
munity that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of 
physical force within a given territory. Note that 'territory' is one of the 
characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to 
use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only 
' to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the 
sole source of the 'right' to use violence. Hence, 'politics' for us means 
striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, 
either among states or among groups within a state. 

This corresponds essentially to ordinary usage. When a question is said 
to be a 'political' question, when a cabinet minister or an official is said 
to be a 'political' official, or when a decision is said to be 'politically' 
determined, what is always meant is that interests in the distribution, 
maintenance, or transfer of power are decisive for answering the ques- 
tions and determining the decision or the official's sphere of activity. He 
who is active in politics strives for power either as a means in serving 
other aims, ideal or egoistic, or as 'power for power's sake,' that is, in 
order to enjoy the prestige-feeling that power gives. 

Like the political institutions historically preceding it, the state is a 
relation of men dominating men, a relation supported by means of legiti- 
mate (i.e. considered to be legitimate) violence. If the state is to exist, 
the dominated must obey the authority claimed by the powers that be. 
When and why do men obey? Upon what inner justifications and upon 
what external means does this domination rest? 

To begin with, in principle, there are three inner justifications, hence 
basic legitimations of domination. 
First, the authority of the 'eternal yesterday,' i.e. of the mores sanctified 



through the unimaginably ancient recognition and habitual orientation 
to conform. This is 'traditionaT jomination exercised by the patriarch 
and the patrimonial prince o£ yore. 

There is the authority of the extraordinary and personal gift of grace 
(charisma), the absolutely personal devotion and personal confidence in 
revelation, heroism, or other qualities of individual leadership. This is 
'charismatic' domination, as exercised by the prophet or — in the field of 
politics — by the elected war lord, the plebiscitarian ruler, the great dema- 
gogue, or the political party leader. 

Finally, there is domination by virtue of 'legality,' by virtue of the 
belief in the validity of legal statute and functional 'competence' based 
on rationally created rules. In this case, obedience is expected in dis- 
charging statutory obligations. This is domination as exercised by the 
modern 'servant of the state' and by all those bearers of power who in 
this respect resemble him. 

It is understood that, in reality, obedience is determined by highly 
robust motives of fear and hope — fear of the vengeance of magical powers 
or of the power-holder, hope for reward in this world or in the beyond — 
and besides all this, by interests of the most varied sort. Of this we shall 
speak presently. However, in asking for the 'legitimations' of this 
obedience, one meets with these threejpure' J^es : 'traditional,' 'charis- 
matic,' and 'legal.' 

These conceptions of legitimacy and their inner justifications are of 
very great significance for the structure of domination. To be sure, the 
pure types are rarely found in reality. But today we cannot deal with 
the highly complex variants, transitions, and combinations of these pure 
types, which problems belong to 'political science.' Here we are inter- 
ested above all in the second of these types: domination by virtue of the 
devotion of those who obey the purely personal 'charisma' of the 
'leader.' For this is the root of the idea of a calling in its highest ex- 

Devotion to the charisma of the prophet, or the leader in war, or to 
the great demagogue in the ecclesia or in parliament, means that the 
leader is personally recognized as the innerly 'called' leader of men. 
Men do not obey him by virtue of tradition or statute, but because they 
believe in him. If he is more than a narrow and vain upstart* of the 
moment, the leader lives for his cause .and 'strives for his work.' ^ The 
devotion of his disciples, his followers, his personal party friends is 
oriented to his person and to its qualities. 


Charismatic leadership has emerged in all places and in all historical 
epochs. Most importantly in the past, it has emerged in the two figures 
of the magician and the prophet on the one hand, and in the elected 
war lord, the gang leader and condotierre on the other hand. Political 
leadership in the form of the free 'demagogue' who grew from the soil 
of the city state is of greater concern to us; like -the city state, the dema- 
gogue is peculiar to the Occident and especially to Mediterranean cul- 
ture. Furthermore, political leadership in the form of the parliamentary 
'party leader' has grown on the soil of the constitutional state, which 
is also indigenous only to the Occident. 

These politicians by virtue of a 'calling,' in the most genuine sense 
of the word, are of course nowhere the only decisive figures in the cross- 
currents of the political struggle for power. The sort of auxiliary means 
that are at their disposal is also highly decisive. How do the politically 
dominant powers manage to maintain their domination? The question 
pertains to any kind of domination, hence also to political domination 
in all its forms, traditional as well as legal and charismatic. 

Organized domination, which calls for continuous administration, re- 
quires that human conduct be conditioned to obedience towards those 
masters who claim to be the bearers of legitimate power. On the other 
hand, by virtue of this obedience, organized domination requires the 
control of those material goods which in a given case are necessary for 
the use of physical violence. Thus, organized domination requires con- 
trol of the personal executive staff and the material implements of ad- 

The administrative staff, which externally represents the organization 
of political domination, is, of course, like any other organization, bound 
by obedience to the power-holder and not alone by the concept of legiti- 
macy, of which we have just spoken. There are two other means, 
both of which appeal to personal interests: material reward and social 
honor. The fiefs of vassals, the prebends of patrimonial officials, the 
salaries of modern civil servants, the honor of knights, the privileges of 
estates, and the honor of the civil servant comprise their respective 
wages. The fear of losing them is the final and decisive basis for soli- 
darity between the executive staff and the power-holder. There is honor 
and booty for the followers in war; for the demagogue's following, there 
are 'spoils' — that is, exploitation of the dominated through the monopo- 
lization of office — and there are politically determined profits and 


premiums of vanity. All of these rewards are also derived from the 
domination exercised by a charismatic leader. 

To maintain a dominion by force, certain material goods are required, 
just as with an economic organization. All states may be classified accord- 
ing to whether they rest on the principle that the staff of men themselves 
own the administrative means, or whether the staff is 'separated' from 
these means of administration. This distinction holds in the same sense 
in which today we say that the salaried employee and the proletarian 
in the capitalistic enterprise are 'separated' from the material means of 
production. The power-holder must be able to count on the obedience 
of the staff members,' officials, or whoever else they may be. The ad- 
ministrative means may consist of money, building, war material, ve- 
hicles, horses, or whatnot. The question is whether or not the power- 
holder himself directs and organizes the administration while delegating 
executive power to personal servants, hired officials, or personal favor- 
ites and confidants, who are non-owners, i.e. who do not use the mate- 
rial means of administration in their own right but are directed by the 
lord. The distinction runs through all administrative organizations of 
the past. 

These political associations in which the material means of adminis- 
tration are autonomously controlled, wholly or partly, by the dependent 
administrative staff may be called associations organized in 'estates.' The 
vassal in the feudal association, for instance, paid out of his own pocket 
for the administration and judicature of the district enfeoffed to him. 
He supplied his own equipment and provisions for war, and his sub- 
vassals did likewise. Of course, this had consequences for the lord's 
position of power, which only rested upon a relation of personal faith 
and upon the fact that the legitimacy of his possession of the fief and 
the social honor of the vassal were derived from the overlord. 

However, everywhere, reaching back to the earliest political forma- 
tions, we also find the lord himself directing the administration. He seeks 
to take the administration into his own hands by having men personally 
dependent upon him: slaves, household officials, attendants, personal 
'favorites,' and prebendaries enfeoffed in kind or in money from his 
magazines. He seeks to defray the expenses from his own pocket, from 
the revenues of his patrimonium; and he seeks to create an army which 
is dependent upon him personally because it is equipped and provisioned 
out of his granaries, magazines, and armories. In the association of 
'estates,' the lord rules with the aid of an autonomous 'aristocracy' and 


hence shares his domination with it; the lord who personally administers 
is supported either by members of his household or by plebeians. These 
are property less strata having no social honor of their own; materially, 
they are completely chained to him and are not backed up by any com- 
peting power of their own. All forms of patriarchal and patrimonial 
domination, Sultanist despotism, and bureaucratic states belong to this 
latter type. The bureaucratic state order is especially important; in its 
most rational development, it is precisely characteristic of the modern 

Everywhere the development of the modern state is initiated through 
the action of the prince. He paves the way for the expropriation of the 
autonomous and 'private' bearers of executive power who stand beside 
him, of those who in their own right possess the means of administration, 
warfare, and financial organization, as well as politically usable goods of 
all sorts. The whole process is a complete parallel to the development 
of the capitalist enterprise through gradual expropriation of the inde- 
pendent producers^ In the end, the modern state controls the total means 
of political organization, which actually come together under a single 
head. No single official personally owns the money he pays out, or the 
buildings, stores, tools, and war machines he controls. 'In the contempo- 
rary 'state' — and this is essential for the concept of state-^the 'separation' 
of the administrative staff, of the administrative officials, and of the 
workers from the material means of administrative organization is com- 
pleted. Here the most modern development begins, and we see with our 
own eyes the attempt to inaugurate the expropriation of this expropria- 
tor of the political means, and therewith of political power. 

The revolution [of Germany, 191 8] has accomplished, at least in so far 
as leaders have taken the place of the statutory authorities, this much: 
the leaders, through usurpation or election, have attained control over 
the political staff and the apparatus of material goods; and they deduce 
their legitimacy — no matter with what right — from the will of the gov- 
erned. Whether the leaders, on the basis of this at least apparent success, 
can rightfully entertain the hope of also carrying through the expropria- 
tion within the capitalist enterprises is a different question. The direction 
of capitalist enterprises, despite far-reaching analogies, follows quite 
different laws than those of political administration. 

Today we do not take a stand on this question. I state only the purely 
conceptual aspect for our consideration: the modern state is a compulsory 
association which organizes domination. It has been successful in seeking 


to monopolize the legitimate use o£ physical force as a means of domina- 
tion within a territory. To this end the state has combined the material 
means of organization in the hands of its leaders, and it has expropriated 
all autonomous functionaries of estates who formerly controlled these 
means in their own right. The state has taken their positions and now 
stands in the top place. 

During this process of political expropriation, which has occurred with 
varying success in all countries on earth, 'professional politicians' in an- 
other sense have emerged. They arose first in the service of a prince. They 
have been men who, unlike the charismatic leader, have not wished to 
be lords themselves, but who have entered the service of political lords. 
In the struggle of expropriation, they placed themselves at the princes' 
disposal and by managing the princes' politics they earned, on the one 
hand, a living and, on the other hand, an ideal content of life. Again, 
it is only in the Occident that we find this kind of professional politician 
in the service of powers other than the princes. In the past, they have 
been the most important power instrument of the prince and his instru- 
ment of political expropriation. 

Before discussing 'professional politicians' in detail, let us clarify in 
all its aspects the state of affairs their existence presents. Politics, just as 
economic pursuits, may be a man's avocation or his vocation. One may 
engage in politics, and hence seek to influence the distribution of power 
within and between political structures, as an 'occasional' politician. We 
are all 'occasional' politicians when we cast our ballot or consummate a 
similar expression of intention, such as applauding or protesting in a 
'political' meeting, or delivering a 'political' speech, etc. The whole rela- 
tion of many people to politics is restricted to this. Politics as an avocation 
is today practiced by all those party agents and heads of voluntary po- 
litical associations who, as a rule, are politically active only in case of 
need and for whom politics is, neither materially nor ideally, 'their life' 
in the first place. The same holds for those members of state counsels 
and similar deliberative bodies that function only when summoned. It 
also holds for rather broad strata of our members of parliament who are 
politically active only during sessions. In the past, such strata were 
found especially among the estates. Proprietors of military implements 
in their own right, or proprietors of goods important for the administra- 
tion, or proprietors of personal prerogatives may be called 'estates.' A 
large portion of them were far from giving their lives wholly, or merely 
preferentially, or more than occasionally, to the service of politics. Rather, 



they exploited their prerogatives in the interest of gaining rent or even 
profits; and they became active in the service of poHtical associations 
only when the overlord of their status-equals especially demanded it. It 
was not different in the case of some of the auxiliary forces which the 
prince drew into the struggle for the creation of a political organization 
to be exclusively at his disposal. This was the nature of the Rate von 
Hans aus [councilors] and, still further back, of a considerable part of 
the councilors assembling in the 'Curia' and other deliberating bodies of 
the princes. But these merely occasional auxiliary forces engaging in 
politics on the side were naturally not sufficient for the prince. Of neces- 
sity, the prince sought to create a staflF of helpers dedicated wholly and 
exclusively to serving him, hence making this their major vocation. The 
structure of the emerging dynastic political organization, and not only 
this but the whole articulation of the culture, depended to a considerable 
degree upon the question of where the prince recruited agents. 

A staff was also necessary for those political associations whose mem- 
bers constituted themselves politically as (so-called) 'free' communes un- 
der the complete abolition or the far-going restriction of princely power. 

They were 'free' not in the sense of freedom from domination by 
force, but in the sense that princely power legitimized by tradition 
(mostly religiously sanctified) as the exclusive source of all authority was 
absent. These communities have their historical home in the Occident. 
Their nucleus was the city as a body politic, the form in which the city 
first emerged in the Mediterranean culture area. In all these cases, what 
did the politicians who made politics their major vocation look like? 

There are two ways of making politics one's vocation: Either one 
lives 'for' politics or one lives 'off' politics. By no means is this contrast 
an exclusive one. The rule is, rather, that man does both, at least in 
thought, and certainly he also does both in practice. He who lives 'for' 
poHtics makes politics his life, in an internal sense. Either he enjoys the 
naked possession of the power he exerts, or he nourishes his inner balance 
and self-feeling by the consciousness that his life has meaning in the 
service of a 'cause.' In this internal sense, every sincere man who lives 
for a cause also lives off this cause. The distinction hence refers to a 
much more substantial aspect of the matter, namely, to the economic. He 
who strives to make politics a permanent source of income lives 'off' 
politics as a vocation, whereas he who does not do this lives 'for' politics. 
Under the dominance of the private property order, some — if you wish — 


very trivial preconditions must exist in order for a person to be able to 
live 'for' politics in this economic sense. Under normal conditions, the 
politician must be economically independent of the income politics can 
bring him. This means, quite simply, that the politician must be wealthy 
or must have a personal position in life which yields a sufficient income. 

This is the case, at least in normal circumstances. The war lord's fol- 
lowing is just as Uttle concerned about the conditions of a normal 
economy as is the street crowd following of the revolutionary hero. 
Both hve oflf booty, plunder, confiscations, contributions, and the imposi- 
tion of worthless and compulsory means of tender, which in essence 
amounts to the same thing. But necessarily, these are extraordinary 
phenomena. In everyday economic life, only some wealth serves the 
purpose of making a man economically independent. Yet this alone does 
not suffice. The professional politician must also be economically 'dis- 
pensable,' that is, his income must not depend upon the fact that he 
constantly and personally places his ability and thinking entirely, or at 
least by far predominantly, in the service of economic acquisition. In 
the most unconditional way, the rentier is dispensable in this sense. 
Hence, he is a man who receives completely unearned income. He may 
be the territorial lord of the past or the large landowner and aristocrat 
of the present who receives ground rent. In Antiquity and the Middle 
Ages they who received slave or serf rents or in modern times rents 
from shares or bonds or similar sources — these are rentiers. 

Neither the worker nor — and this has to be noted well — the entre- 
preneur, especially the modern, large-scale entrepreneur, is economically 
dispensable in this sense. For it is precisely the entrepreneur who is tied 
to his enterprise and is therefore not dispensable. This holds for the 
entrepreneur in industry far more than for the entrepreneur in agricul- 
ture, considering the seasonal character of agriculture. In the main, it is 
very difficult for the enterpreneur to be represented in his enterprise 
by someone else, even temporarily. He is as little dispensable as is the 
medical doctor, and the more eminent and busy he is the less dispensable 
he is. For purely organizational reasons, it is easier for the lawyer to 
be dispensable; and therefore the lawyer has played an incomparably 
greater, and often even a dominant, role as a professional politician. We 
shall not continue in this classification; rather let us clarify some of its 

The leadership of a state or of a party by men who (in the economic 
sense of the word) live exclusively for politics and not off politics means 


necessarily a 'plutocratic' recruitment of the leading political strata. To 
be sure, this does not mean that such plutocratic leadership signifies at 
the same time that the politically dominant strata will not also seek to 
live 'off politics, and hence that the dominant stratum will not usually 
exploit their political domination in their own economic interest. All that 
is unquestionable, of course. There has never been such a stratum that 
has not somehow lived 'off politics. Only this is meant: that the profes- 
sional politician need not seek remuneration directly for his political 
work, whereas every politician without means must absolutely claim this. 
On the other hand, we do not mean to say that the propertyless politician 
will pursue private economic advantages through politics, exclusively, or 
even predominantly. Nor do we mean that he will not think, in the 
first place, of 'the subject matter.' Nothing would be more incorrect. Ac- 
cording to all experience, a care for the economic 'security' of his exist- 
ence is consciously or unconsciously a cardinal point in the whole life 
orientation of the wealthy man. A quite reckless and unreserved political 
ideaHsm is found if not exclusively at least predominantly among those 
strata who by virtue of their propertylessness stand entirely outside of 
the strata who are interested in maintaining the economic order of a 
given society. This holds especially for extraordinary and hence revolu- 
tionary epochs. A non-plutocratic recruitment of interested politicians, of 
leadership and following, is geared to the self-understood precondition 
that regular and reliable income will accrue to those who manage 

Either politics can be conducted 'honorifically' and then, as one usually 
says, by 'independent,' that is, by wealthy, men, and especially by 
rentiers. Or, political leadership is made accessible to propertyless men 
who must then be rewarded. The professional politician who lives 'off 
politics may be a pure 'prebendary' or a salaried 'official.' Then the poli- 
tician receives either income from fees and perquisites for specific serv- 
ices — tips and bribes are only an irregular and formally illegal variant 
of this category of income — or a fixed income in kind, a money salary, 
or both. He may assume the character of an 'entrepreneur,' like the 
condottiere or the holder of a farmed-out or purchased office, or like the 
American boss who considers his costs a capital investment which he 
brings to fruition through exploitation of his influence. Again, he may 
receive a fixed wage, like a journalist, a party secretary, a modern cabinet 
minister, or a political official. Feudal fiefs, land grants, and prebends of 
all sorts have been typical, in the past. With the development of the 


money economy, perquisites and prebends especially are the typical re- 
wards for the following of princes, victorious conquerors, or successful 
party chiefs. For loyal services today, party leaders give offices of all sorts 
— in parties, newspapers, co-operative societies, health insurance, munici- 
paUties, as well as in the state. All party struggles are struggles for the 
patronage of office, as well as struggles for objective goals. 

In Germany, all struggles between the proponents of local and of 
central government are focused upon the question of which powers shall 
control the patronage of office, whether they are of Berlin, Munich, 
Karlsruhe, or Dresden. Setbacks in participating in offices are felt more 
severely by parties than is action against their objective goals. In France, 
a turnover of prefects because of party politics has always been con- 
sidered a greater transformation and has always caused a greater uproar 
than a modification in the government's program — the latter almost hav- 
ing the significance of mere verbiage. Some parties, especially those in 
America since the disappearance of the old conflicts concerning the inter- 
pretation of the constitution, have become pure patronage parties hand- 
ing out jobs and changing their material program according to the chances 
of grabbing votes. 

In Spain, up to recent years, the two great parties, in a conventionally 
fixed manner, took turns in office by means of 'elections,' fabricated from 
above, in order to provide their followers with offices. In the Spanish 
colonial territories, in the so-called 'elections,' as well as in the so-called 
'revolutions,' what was at stake was always the state bread-basket from 
which the victors wished to be fed. 

In Switzerland, the parties peacefully divided the offices among them- 
selves proportionately, and some of our 'revolutionary' constitutional 
drafts, for instance the first draft of the Badenian constitution, sought 
to extend this system to ministerial positions. Thus, the state and state 
offices were considered as pure institutions for the provision of spoilsmen. 

Above all, the Catholic Center party was enthusiastically for this draft. 
In Badenia, the party, as part of the party platform, made the distribution 
of offices proportional to confessions and hence without regard to achieve- 
ment. This tendency becomes stronger for all parties when the number 
of offices increase as a result of general bureaucratization and when the 
demand for offices increases because they represent specifically secure 
livelihoods. For their followings, the parties become more and more a 
means to the end of being provided for in this manner. 

The development of modern officialdom into a highly qualified, pro- 


fessional labor force, specialized in expertness through long years of 
preparatory training, stands opposed to all these arrangements. Modern 
bureaucracy in the interest of integrity has developed a high sense of 
status honor; without this sense the danger of an awful corruption and 
a vulgar Philistinism threatens fatally. And without such integrity, even 
the purely technical functions of the state apparatus would be endan- 
gered. The significance of the state apparatus for the economy has been 
steadily rising, especially with increasing socialization, and its significance 
will be further augmented. 

In the United States, amateur administration through booty politicians 
in accordance with the outcome of presidential elections resulted in the 
exchange of hundreds of thousands of officials, even down to the mail 
carrier. The administration knew nothing of the professional civil- 
servant-for-life, but this amateur administration has long since been 
punctured by the Civil Service Reform. Purely technical, irrefrageable 
needs of the administration have determined this development. 

In Europe, expert officialdom, based on the division of labor, has 
emerged in a gradual development of half a thousand years. The Italian 
cities and seigniories were the beginning, among the monarchies, and 
the states of the Norman conquerors. But the decisive step was taken 
in connection with the administration of the finances of the prince. With 
the administrative reforms of Emperor Max, it can be seen how hard it 
was for the officials to depose successfully of the prince in this field, even 
under the pressure of extreme emergency and of Turkish rule. The 
sphere of finance could afford least of all a ruler's dilettantism — a ruler 
who at that time was still above all a knight. The development of war 
technique called forth the expert and specialized officer; the differentia- 
tion of legal procedure called forth the trained jurist. In these three 
areas — finance, war, and law — expert officialdom in the more advanced 
states was definitely triumphant during the sixteenth century. With the 
ascendancy of princely absolutism over the estates, there was simultane- 
ously a gradual abdication of the prince's autocratic rule in favor of an 
expert officialdom. These very officials had only facilitated the prince's 
victory over the estates. 

The development of the 'leading politicians' was realized along with 
the ascendancy of the specially trained officialdom, even if in far less 
noticeable transitions. Of course, such really decisive advisers of the 
princes have existed at all times and all over the world. In the Orient, 
the need for relieving the Sultan as far as possible from personal respon- 


sibility for the success of the government has created the typical figure 
of the 'Grand Vizier.' In the Occident, influenced above all by the reports 
of the Venetian legates, diplomacy first became a consciously cultivated 
art in the age of Charles V, in Machiavelli's time. The reports of the 
Venetian legates were read with passionate zeal in expert diplomatic 
circles. The adepts of this art, who were in the main educated humanis- 
tically, treated one another as trained initiates, similar to the humanist 
Chinese statesmen in the last period of the warring states. The neces- 
sity of a formally unified guidance of the whole policy, including that 
of home affairs, by a leading statesman finally and compellingly arose 
only through constitutional development. Of course, individual personal- 
ities, such as advisers of the princes, or rather, in fact, leaders, had 
again and again existed before then. But the organization of adminis- 
trative agencies even in the most advanced states first proceeded along 
other avenues. Top collegial administrative agencies had emerged. In 
theory, and to a gradually decreasing extent in fact, they met under the 
personal chairmanship of the prince who rendered the decision. This 
collegial system led to memoranda, counter-memoranda, and reasoned 
votes of the majority and the minority. In addition to the official and 
highest authorities, the prince surrounded himself with purely personal 
confidants — the 'cabinet' — and through them rendered his decisions, after 
considering the resolutions of the state counsel, or whatever else the 
highest state agency was called. The prince, coming more and more into 
the position of a dilettante, sought to extricate himself from the unavoid- 
ably increasing weight of the expertly trained officials through the col- 
legial system and the cabinet. He sought to retain the highest leadership 
in his own hands. This latent struggle betv/een expert officialdom and 
autocratic rule existed everywhere. Only in the face of parliaments and 
the power aspirations of party leaders did the situation change. Very 
different conditions led to the externally identical result, though to be 
sure with certain differences. Wherever the dynasties retained actual 
power in their hands — as was especially the case in Germany — the inter- 
ests of the prince were joined with those of officialdom against parlia- 
ment and its claims for power. The officials were also interested in hav- 
ing leading positions, that is, ministerial positions, occupied by their own 
ranks, thus making these positions an object of the official career. The 
monarch, on his part, was interested in being able to appoint the min- 
isters from the ranks of devoted officials according to his own discretion. 
Both parties, however, were interested in seeing the political leadership 


confront parliament in a unified and solidary fashion, and hence in 
seeing the collegial system replaced by a single cabinet head. Further- 
more, in order to be removed in a purely formal way from the struggle 
of parties and from party attacks, the monarch needed a single person- 
ality to cover him and to assume responsibility, that is, to answer to par- 
liament and to negotiate with the parties. All these interests worked 
together and in the same direction: a minister emerged to direct the 
officialdom in a unified way. 

Where parliament gained supremacy over the monarch — as in England 
— the development of parliamentary power worked even more strongly 
in the direction of a unification of the state apparatus. In England, the 
'cabinet,' with the single head of Parliament as its 'leader,' developed 
as a committee of the party which at the time controlled the majority. 
This party power was ignored by official law but, in fact, it alone was 
politically decisive. The official collegial bodies as such were not organs 
of the actual ruling power, the party, and hence could not be the bearers 
of real government. The ruling party required an ever-ready organiza- 
tion composed only of its actually leading men, who would confidentially 
discuss matters in order to maintain power within and be capable of 
engaging in grand politics outside. The cabinet is simply this organi- 
zation. However, in relation to the public, especially the parliamentary 
public, the party needed a leader responsible for all decisions — the cabinet 
head. The English system has been taken over on the Continent in the 
form of parliamentary ministries. In America alone, and in the de- 
mocracies influenced by America, a quite heterogeneous system was 
placed into opposition with this system. The American system placed 
the directly and popularly elected leader of the victorious party at the head 
of the apparatus of officials appointed by him and bound him to the 
consent of 'parliament' only in budgetary and legislative matters.' 

The development of politics into an organization which demanded 
training in the struggle for power, and in the methods of this struggle 
as developed by modern party policies, determined the separation of 
public functionaries into two categories, which, however, are by no 
means rigidly but nevertheless distinctly separated. These categories are 
'administrative' officials on the one hand, and 'political' officials on the 
other. The 'political' officials, in the genuine sense of the word, can 
regularly and externally be recognized by the fact that they can be 
transferred any time at will, that they can be dismissed, or at least 
temporarily withdrawn. They are like the French prefects and the com- 


parable officials of other countries, and this is in sharp contrast to the 
'independence' of officials with judicial functions. In England, officials 
who, according to fixed convention, retire from office when there is a 
change in the parliamentary majority, and hence a change in the cabi- 
net, belong to this category. There are usually among them some whose 
competence includes the management of the general 'inner administra- 
tion.' The political element consists, above all, in the task of maintaining 
'law and order' in the country, hence maintaining the existing power re- 
lations. In Prussia these officials, in accordance with Puttkamer's decree 
and in order to avoid censure, were obliged to 'represent the policy of 
the government.' And, like the prefects in France, they were used as an 
official apparatus for influencing elections. Most of the 'political' officials 
of the German system — in contrast to other countries — were equally 
qualified in so far as access to these offices required a university educa- 
tion, special examinations, and special preparatory service. In Germany, 
only the heads of the poHtical apparatus, the ministers, lack this specific 
characteristic of modern civil service. Even under the old regime, one 
could be the Prussian minister of education without ever having at- 
tended an institution of higher learning; whereas one could become 
V ortragender Rat^ in principle, only on the basis of a prescribed exami- 
nation. The specialist and trained Dezernent^ and* V ortragender Rat 
were of course infinitely better informed about the real technical prob- 
lems of the division than was their respective chief — for instance, under 
Althofl in the Prussian ministry of education. In England it was not 
different. Consequently, in all routine demands the divisional head was 
more powerful than the minister, which was not without reason. The 
minister was simply the representative of the political power constella- 
tion; he had to represent these powerful political staffs and he had to 
take measure of the proposals of his subordinate expert officials or give 
them directive orders of a political nature. 

After all, things in a private economic enterprise are quite similar: the 
real 'sovereign,' the assembled shareholders, is just as little influential in 
the business management as is a 'people' ruled by expert officials. And 
the personages who decide the policy of the enterprise, the bank-con- 
trolled 'directorate,' give only directive economic orders and select persons 
for the management without themselves being capable of technically 
directing the enterprise. Thus the present structure of the revolutionary 
state signifies nothing new in principle. It places power over the admin- 
istration into the hands of absolute dilettantes, who, by virtue of their 


control o£ the machine-guns, would hke to use expert officials only as 
executive heads and hands. The difficulties of the present system lie else- 
where than here, but today these difficulties shall not concern us. We 
shall, rather, ask for the typical peculiarity of the professional politicians, 
of the 'leaders' as well as their followings. Their nature has changed and 
today varies greatly from one case to another. 

We have seen that in the past 'professional politicians' developed 
through the struggle of the princes with the estates and that they served 
the princes. Let us briefly review the major types of these professional 

Confronting the estates, the prince found support in politically exploit- 
able strata outside of the order of the estates. Among the latter, there was, 
first, the clergy in Western and Eastern India, in Buddhist China and 
Japan, and in Lamaist Mongolia, just as in the Christian territories of the 
Middle Ages. The clergy were technically useful because they were 
literate. The importation of Brahmins, Buddhist priests. Lamas, and the 
employment of bishops and priests as political counselors, occurred with 
an eye to obtaining administrative forces who could read and write and 
who could be used in the struggle of the emperor, prince, or Khan 
against the aristocracy. Unlike the vassal who confronted his overlord, 
the cleric, especially the celibate cleric, stood outside the machinery of 
normal political and economic interests and was not tempted by the 
struggle for political power, for himself or for his descendants. By virtue 
of his own status, the cleric was 'separated' from the managerial imple- 
ments of princely administration. 

The humanistically educated literati comprised a second such stratum. 
There was a time when one learned to produce Latin speeches and 
Greek verses in order to become a political adviser to a prince and, 
above all things, to become a memorialist. This was the time of the first 
flowering of the humanist schools and of the princely foundations of 
professorships for 'poetics.' This was for us a transitory epoch, which has 
had a quite persistent influence upon our educational system, yet no 
deeper results politically. In East Asia, it has been different. The Chinese 
mandarin is, or rather originally was, what the humanist of our Renais- 
sance period approximately was: a literator humanistically trained and 
tested in the language monuments of the remote past. When you read 
the diaries of Li Hung Chang you will find that he is most proud of 
having composed poems and of being a good calligrapher. This stratum, 
with its conventions developed and modeled after Chinese Antiquity, has 


determined the whole destiny of China; and perhaps our fate would have 
been similar if the humanists in their time had had the slightest chance 
of gaining a similar influence. 

The third stratum was the court nobility. After the princes had suc- 
ceeded in expropriating political power from the nobility as an estate, 
they drew the nobles to the court and used them in their political and 
diplomatic service. The transformation of our educational system in 
the seventeenth century was partly determined by the fact that court 
nobles as professional politicians displaced the humanist literati and 
entered the service of the princes. 

The fourth category was a specifically English institution. A patrician 
stratum developed there which was comprised of the petty nobility and 
the urban rentiers; technically they are called the 'gentry.' The English 
gentry represents a stratum that the prince originally attracted in order 
to counter the barons. The prince placed the stratum in possession of the 
offices of 'self-government,' and later he himself became increasingly 
dependent upon them. The gentry maintained the possession of all offices 
of local administration by taking them over without compensation in the 
interest of their own social power. The gentry has saved England from 
the bureaucratization which has been the fate of all continental states. 

A fifth stratum, the university-trained jurist, is peculiar to the Occi- 
dent, especially to the European continent, and has been of decisive 
significance for the Continent's whole political structure. The tremendous 
after-efFect of Roman law, as transformed by the late Roman bureau- 
cratic state, stands out in nothing more clearly than the fact that every- 
where the revolution of political management in the direction of the 
evolving rational state has been borne by trained jurists. This also oc- 
curred in England, although there the great national guilds of jurists 
hindered the reception of Roman law. There is no analogy to this process 
to be found in any area of the world. 

All beginnings of rational juristic thinking in the Indian Mimamsa 
School and all further cultivation of the ancient juristic thinking in 
Islam have been unable to prevent the idea of rational law from being 
overgrown by theological forms of thought. Above all, legal trial pro- 
cedure has not been fully rationalized in the cases of India and of 
Islamism. Such rationalization has been brought about on the Conti- 
nent only through the borrowing of ancient Roman jurisprudence by 
the Italian jurists. Roman jurisprudence is the product of a political 
structure arising from the city state to world domination — a product 


of quite unique nature. The usus modernus of the late medieval pandect 
jurists and canonists was blended with theories of natural law, which 
were born from juristic and Christian thought and which were later 
secularized. This juristic rationalism has had its great representatives 
among the ItaHan Podesta, the French crown jurists (who created the 
formal means for the undermining of the rule of seigneurs by royal 
power), among the canonists and the theologians of the ecclesiastic 
councils (thinking in terms of natural law), among the court jurists 
and academic judges of the continental princes, among the Netherland 
teachers of natural law and the monarchomachists, among the English 
crown and parliamentary jurists, among the noblesse de robe of the 
French Parliament, and finally, among the lawyers of the age of the 
French Revolution. 

Without this juristic rationalism, the rise of the absolute state is just 
as little imaginable as is the Revolution. If you look through the 
remonstrances of the French Parliaments or through the cahiers of the 
French Estates-General from the sixteenth century to the year 1789, 
you will find everywhere the spirit of the jurists. And if you go over 
the occupational composition of the members of the French Assembly, 
you will find there — although the members of the Assembly were elected 
through equal franchise — a single proletarian, very few bourgeois enter- 
prisers, but jurists of all sorts, en fnasse. Without them, the specific men- 
tality that inspired these radical intellectuals and their projects would be 
quite inconceivable. Since the French Revolution, the modern lawyer 
and modern democracy absolutely belong together. And lawyers, in our 
sense of an independent status group, also exist only in the Occident. 
They have developed since the Middle Ages from the Fiirsprech of the 
formalistic Germanic legal procedure under the impact of the rationali- 
zation of the trial. 

The significance of the lawyer in Occidental politics since the rise 
of parties is not accidental. The management of politics through parties 
simply means management through interest groups. We shall soon see 
what that means. The craft of the trained lawyer is to plead effectively 
the cause of interested clients. In this, the lawyer is superior to any 'offi- 
cial,' as the superiority of enemy propaganda [Allied propaganda 1914-18] 
could teach us. Certainly he can advocate and win a cause supported by 
logically weak arguments and one which, in this sense, is a 'weak' cause. 
Yet he wins it because technically he makes a 'strong case' for it. But 
only the lawyer successfully pleads a cause that can be supported by logi- 


cally strong arguments, thus handling a 'good' cause 'well.' All too often 
the civil servant as a politician turns a cause that is good in every sense 
into a 'weak' cause, through technically 'weak' pleading. This is what we 
have had to experience. To an outstanding degree, politics today is in 
fact conducted in public by means of the spoken or written word. To 
weigh the effect of the word properly falls within the range of the law- 
yer's tasks; but not at all into that of the civil servant. The latter is no 
demagogue, nor is it his purpose to be one. If he nevertheless tries to 
become a demagogue, he usually becomes a very poor one. 

According to his proper vocation, the genuine official — and this is 
decisive for the evaluation of our former regime — will not engage in 
politics. Rather, he should engage in impartial 'administration.' This 
also holds for the so-called 'political' administrator, at least officially, 
in so far as the raison d'etat, that is, the vital interests of the ruling 
order, are not in question. Sine ira et studio, 'without scorn and bias,' 
he shall administer his office. Hence, he shall not do precisely what the 
politician, the leader as well as his following, must always and neces- 
sarily do, namely, fight. 

To take a stand, to be passionate — ira et studium — is the politician's 
element, and above all the element of the political leader. His conduct 
is subject to quite a different, indeed, exactly the opposite, principle 
of responsibility from that of the civil servant. The honor of the civil 
servant is vested in his ability to execute conscientiously the order of the 
superior authorities, exactly as if the order agreed with his own con- 
viction. This holds even if the order appears wrong to him and if, 
despite the civil servant's remonstrances, the authority insists on the 
order. Without this moral discipline and self-denial, in the highest sense, 
the whole apparatus would fall to pieces. The honor of the political 
leader, of the leading statesman, however, lies precisely in an exclusive 
personal responsibility for what he does, a responsibility he cannot and 
must not reject or transfer. It is in the nature of officials of high moral 
standing to be poor politicians, and above all, in the political sense of 
the word, to be irresponsible politicians. In this sense, they are poli- 
ticians of low moral standing, such as we unfortunately have had again 
and again in leading positions. This is what we have called Beamtenherr- 
schajt [civil-service rule], and truly no spot soils the honor of our offi- 
cialdom if we reveal what is politically wrong with the system from the 
standpoint of success. But let us return once more to the types of political 


Since the time of the constitutional state, and definitely since democ- 
racy has been established, the 'demagogue' has been the typical political 
leader in the Occident. The distasteful flavor of the word must not 
make us forget that not Cleon but Pericles was the first to bear the 
name of demagogue. In contrast to the offices of ancient democracy that 
were filled by lot, Pericles led the sovereign Ecclesia of the demos of 
Athens as a supreme strategist holding the only elective office or without 
holding any office at all. Modern demagoguery also makes use of 
oratory, even to a tremendous extent, if one considers the election 
speeches a modern candidate has to deliver. But the use of the printed 
word is more enduring. The political publicist, and above all the 
journalist, is nowadays the most important representative of the dema- 
gogic species. 

Within the limits of this lecture, it is quite impossible even to sketch 
the sociology of modern political journalism, which in every respect con- 
stitutes a chapter in itself. Certainly, only a few things concerning it are 
in place here. In common with all demagogues and, by the way, with the 
lawyer (and the artist), the journalist shares the fate of lacking a fixed 
social classification. At least, this is the case on the Continent, in contrast 
to the English, and, by the way, also to former conditions in Prussia. 
The journalist belongs to a sort of pariah caste, which is always estimated 
by 'society' in terms of its ethically lowest representative. Hence, the 
strangest notions about journalists and their work are abroad. Not every- 
body reahzes that a really good journalistic accomplishment requires at 
least as much 'genius' * as any scholarly accomplishment, especially be- 
cause of the necessity of producing at once and 'on order,' and because 
of the necessity of being effective, to be sure, under quite different condi- 
tions of production. It is almost never acknowledged that the responsi- 
bility of the journalist is far greater, and that the sense of responsibility 
of every honorable journalist is, on the average, not a bit lower than 
that of the scholar, but rather, as the war has shown, higher. This is be- 
cause, in the very nature of the case, irresponsible journalistic accom- 
plishments and their often terrible effects are remembered. 

Nobody believes that the discretion of any able journalist ranks above 
the average of other people, and yet that is the case. The quite incompa- 
rably graver temptations, and the other conditions that accompany jour- 
nalistic work at the present time, produce those results which have con- 
ditioned the public to regard the press with a mixture of disdain and 
pitiful cowardice. Today we cannot discuss what is to be done. Here we 


are interested in the question of the occupational destiny of the poHtical 
journahst and of his chance to attain a position of poUtical leadership. 
Thus far, the journalist has had favorable chances only in the Social 
Democratic party. Within the party, editorial positions have been pre- 
dominantly in the nature of official positions, but editorial positions have 
not been the basis for positions of leadership. 

In the bourgeois parties, on the whole, the chances for ascent to politi- 
cal power along this avenue have rather become worse, as compared 
with those of the previous generation. Naturally every politician of con- 
sequence has needed influence over the press and hence has needed 
relations with the press. But that party leaders would emerge from the 
ranks of the press has been an absolute exception and one should not 
have expected it. The reason for this lies in the strongly increased 'indis- 
pensability' of the journahst, above all, of the propertyless and hence 
professionally bound journalist, an indispensability which is determined 
by the tremendously increased intensity and tempo of journalistic oper- 
ations. The necessity of gaining one's livelihood by the writing of daily 
or at least weekly articles is like lead on the feet of the politicians. I 
know of cases in which natural leaders have been permanently paralyzed 
in their ascent to power, externally and above all internally, by this com- 
pulsion. The relations of the press to the ruling powers in the state and 
in the parties, under the old regime [of the Kaiser], were as detrimental 
as they could be to the level of journalism; but that is a chapter in itself. 
These conditions w^ere different in the countries of our opponents [the 
Allies]. But there also, and for all modern states, apparently the jour- 
nahst worker gains less and less as the capitalist lord of the press, of the 
sort of 'Lord' Northcliffe, for instance, gains more and more political 

Thus far, however, our great capitalist newspaper concerns, which at- 
tained control, especially over the 'chain newspapers,' with 'want ads,' 
have been regularly and typically the breeders of political indifference. 
For no profits could be made in an independent policy; especially no 
profitable benevolence of the politically dominant powers could be ob- 
tained. The advertising business is also the avenue along which, during 
the war, the attempt was made to influence the press politically in a grand 
style — an attempt which apparently it is regarded as desirable to continue 
now. Although one may expect the great papers to escape this pressure, 
the situation of the small ones will be far more difficult. In any case, for 
the time being, the journalist career is not among us, a normal avenue 


for the ascent of political leaders, whatever attraction journalism may 
otherwise have and whatever measure of influence, range of activity, and 
especially political responsibility it may yield. One has to wait and see. 
Perhaps journalism does not have this function any longer, or perhaps 
journalism does not yet have it. Whether the renunciation of the principle 
of anonymity would mean a change in this is difficult to say. Some jour- 
nalists — ^not all — believe in dropping principled anonymity. What we 
have experieiictd during the war in the German press, and in the 
'management' of newspapers by especially hired personages and talented 
writers who always expressly figured under their names, has unfortu- 
nately shown, in some of the better known cases, that an increased aware- 
ness of responsibility is not so certain to be bred as might be believed. 
Some of the papers were, without regard to party, precisely the notoriously 
worst boulevard sheets; by dropping anonymity they strove for and at- 
tained greater sales. The publishers as well as the journalists of sensation- 
alism have gained fortunes but certainly not honor. Nothing is here 
being said against the principle of promoting sales; the question is indeed 
an intricate one, and the phenomenon of irresponsible sensationaUsm does 
not hold in general. But thus far, sensationalism has not been the road to 
genuine leadership or to the responsible management of politics. How 
conditions will further develop remains to be seen. Yet the journalist 
career remains under all circumstances one of the most important ave- 
nues of professional political activity. It is not a road for everybody, least 
of all for weak characters, especially for people who can maintain their 
inner balance only with a secure status position. If the life of a young 
scholar is a gamble, still he is walled in by firm status conventions, which 
prevent him from slipping. But the journalist's life is an absolute gamble 
in every respect and under conditions that test one's inner security in a 
way that scarcely occurs in any other situation. The often bitter experi- 
ences in occupational life are perhaps not even the worst. The inner 
demands that are directed precisely at the successful journalist are 
especially difficult. It is, indeed, no small matter to frequent the salons 
of the powerful on this earth on a seemingly equal footing and often to 
be flattered by all because one is feared, yet knowing all the time that 
having hardly closed the door the host has perhaps to justify before his 
guests his association with the 'scavengers from the press.' Moreover, it 
is no small matter that one must express oneself promptly and con- 
vincingly about this and that, on all conceivable problems of life — what- 
ever the 'market' happens to demand — and this without becoming abso- 


lutely shallow and above all without losing one's dignity by baring 
oneself, a thing which has merciless results. It is not astonishing that 
there are many journalists who have become human failures and worth- 
less men. Rather, it is astonishing that, despite all this, this very stratum 
includes such a great number of valuable and quite genuine men, a fact 
that outsiders would not so easily guess. 

If the journalist as a type of professional politician harks back to a 
rather considerable past, the figure of the party official belongs only to 
the development of the last decades and, in part, only to recent years. In 
order to comprehend the position of this figure in historical evolution, 
we shall have to turn to a consideration of parties and party organiza- 

In all political associations which are somehow extensive, that is, asso- 
ciations going beyond the sphere and range of the tasks of small rural 
districts where power-holders are periodically elected, political organiza- 
tion is necessarily managed by men interested in the management of 
politics. This is to say that a relatively small number of men are pri- 
marily interested in political life and hence interested in sharing political 
power. They provide themselves with a following through free recruit- 
ment, present themselves or their proteges as candidates for election, col- 
lect the financial means, and go out for vote-grabbing. It is unimagi- 
nable how in large associations elections could function at all without 
this managerial pattern. In practice this means the division of the citizens 
with the right to vote into politically active and politically passive ele- 
ments. This difference is based on voluntary attitudes, hence it cannot be 
abolished through measures like obligatory voting, or 'occupational status 
group' representation, or similar measures that are expressly or actually 
directed against this state of affairs and the rule of professional politicians. 
The active leadership and their freely recruited following are the neces- 
sary elements in the life of any party. The following, and through it 
the passive electorate, are necessary for the election of the leader. But the 
structure of parties varies. For instance, the 'parties' of the medieval 
cities, such as those of the Guelfs and the Ghibellines, were purely per- 
sonal foUowings. If one considers various things about these medieval 
parties, one is reminded of Bolshevism and its Soviets. Consider the 
Statuta della perta Guelja, the confiscations of the Nobili's estates — which 
originally meant all those families who lived a chivalrous life and who 
thus qualified for fiefs — consider the exclusion from office-holding and 
the denial of the right to vote, the inter-local party committees, the 


Strictly military organizations and the premiums for informers. Then 
consider Bolshevism with its strictly sieved military and, in Russia espe- 
cially, informer organizations, the disarmament and denial of the politi- 
cal rights of the 'bourgeois,' that is, of the entrepreneur, trader, rentier, 
clergyman, descendants of the dynasty, police agents, as well as the 
confiscation policy. 

This analogy is still more striking when one considers that, on the one 
hand, the military organization of the medieval party constituted a pure 
army of knights organized on the basis of the registered feudal estates 
and that nobles occupied almost all leading positions, and, on the other 
hand, that the Soviets have preserved, or rather reintroduced, the highly 
paid enterpriser, the group wage, the Taylor system, military and work- 
shop discipline, and a search for foreign capital. Hence, in a word, the 
Soviets have had to accept again absolutely all the things that Bolshevism 
had been fighting as bourgeois class institutions. They have had to do 
this in order to keep the state and the economy going at all. Moreover, 
the Soviets have reinstituted the agents of the former Ochrana [Tsarist 
Secret Police] as the main instrument of their state power. But here we 
do not have to deal with such organizations for violence, but rather 
with professional politicians who strive for power through sober and 
'peaceful' party campaigns in the market of election votes. 

Parties, in the sense usual with us, were at first, for instance in Eng- 
land, pure followings of the aristocracy. If, for any reason whatever, a 
peer changed his party, everybody dependent upon him likewise changed. 
Up to the Reform Bill [of 1832], the great noble families and, last 
but not least, the king controlled the patronage of an immense number 
of election boroughs. Close to these aristocratic parties were the parties of 
notables, which develop everywhere with the rising power of the bour- 
geois. Under the spiritual leadership of the typical intellectual strata of 
the Occident, the propertied and cultured circles differentiated themselves 
into parties and followed them. These parties were formed partly accord- 
ing to class interest, partly according to family traditions, and partly for 
ideological reasons. Clergymen, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors, 
apothecaries, prosperous farmers, manufacturers — in England the whole 
stratum that considered itself as belonging to the class of gentlemen — 
formed, at first, occasional associations at most local political clubs. In 
times of unrest the petty bourgeoisie raised its voice, and once in a while 
the proletariat, if leaders arose who, however, as a rule did not stem from 
their midst. In this phase, parties organized as permanent associations 


between localities do not yet exist in the open country. Only the parlia- 
mentary delegates create the cohesion; and the local notables are de- 
cisive for the selection of candidates. The election programs originate 
partly in the election appeals of the candidates and partly in the meetings 
of the notables; or, they originate as resolutions of the parliamentary 
party. Leadership of the clubs is an avocation and an honorific pursuit, 
as demanded by the occasion. 

Where clubs are absent (as is mostly the case), the quite formless 
management of pohtics in normal times lies in the hands of the few 
people constantly interested in it. Only the journalist is a paid profes- 
sional politician; only the management of the newspaper is a continuous 
political organization. Besides the newspaper, there is only the parlia- 
mentary session. The parliamentary delegates and the parliamentary 
party leaders know to which local notables one turns if a political action 
seems desirable. But permanent associations of the parties exist only in 
the large cities with moderate contributions of the members and periodi- 
cal conferences and public meetings where the delegate gives account 
of the parliamentary activities. The party is alive only during election 

The members of parliament are interested in the possibility of inter- 
local electoral compromises, in vigorous and unified programs endorsed by 
broad circles and in a unified agitation throughout the country. In general 
these interests form the driving force of a party organization which be- 
comes more and more strict. In principle, however, the nature of a party 
apparatus as an association of notables remains unchanged. This is so, 
even though a network of local party affiliations and agents is spread 
over the whole country, including middle-sized cities. A member of the 
parhamentary party acts as the leader of the central party office and main- 
tains constant correspondence with the local organizations. Outside of 
the central bureau, paid officials are still absent; thoroughly 'respectable' 
people head the local organizations for the sake of the deference which 
they enjoy anyway. They form the extra-parliamentary 'notables' who 
exert influence alongside the stratum of poHtical notables who happen 
to sit in parliament. However, the party correspondence, edited by the 
party, increasingly provides intellectual nourishment for the press and for 
the local meetings. Regular contributions of the members become indis- 
pensable; a part of these must cover the expenses of headquarters. 

Not so long ago most of the German party organizations were still 
in this stage of development. In France, the first stage of party develop- 


ment was, at least in part, still predominant, and the organization of the 
members of parliament was quite unstable. In the open country, we find 
a small number of local notables and programs drafted by the candidates 
or set up for them by their patrons in specific campaigns for office. To 
be sure, these platforms constitute more or less local adaptations to the 
resolutions and programs of the members of parliament. This system was 
only partially punctured. The number of full-time professional politicians 
was small, consisting in the main of the elected deputies, the few em- 
ployees of headquarters, and the journalists. In France, the system has 
also included those job hunters who held 'political office' or, at the mo- 
ment, strove for one. Politics was formally and by far predominantly 
an avocation. The number of delegates qualifying for ministerial office 
was also very restricted and, because of their position as notables, so was 
the number of election candidates. 

However, the number of those who indirectly had a stake in the man- 
agement of politics, especially a material one, was very large. For, all 
administrative measures of a ministerial department, and especially all 
decisions in matters of personnel, were made partly with a view to their 
influence upon electoral chances. The realization of each and every kind 
of wish was sought through the local delegate's mediation. For better or 
for worse the minister had to lend his ear to this delegate, especially 
if the delegate belonged to the minister's majority. Hence everybody 
strove for such influence. The single deputy controlled the patronage 
of office and, in general, any kind of patronage in his election district. 
In order to be re-elected the deputy, in turn, maintained connections 
with the local notables. 

Now then, the most modern forms of party organizations stand in 
sharp contrast to this idyllic state in which circles of notables and, above 
all, members of parliament rule. These modern forms are the children 
of democracy, of mass franchise, of the necessity to woo and organize 
the masses, and develop the utmost unity of direction and the strictest 
discipline. The rule of notables and guidance by members of parliament 
ceases. 'Professional' politicians outside the parliaments take the organ- 
ization in hand. They do so either as 'entrepreneurs' — the American boss 
and the English election agent are, in fact, such entrepreneurs — or as 
officials with a fixed salary. Formally, a fargoing democratization takes 
place. The parliamentary party no longer creates the authoritative pro- 
grams, and the local notables no longer decide the selection of candidates. 
Rather assemblies of the organized party members select the candidates 


and delegate members to the assemblies o£ a higher order. Possibly there 
are several such conventions leading up to the national convention of 
the party. Naturally power actually rests in the hands of those who, 
within the organization, handle the work continuously. Otherwise, power 
rests in the hands of those on whom the organization in its processes 
depends financially or personally — for instance, on the Maecenases or 
the directors of powerful political clubs of interested persons (Tammany 
Hall). It is decisive that this whole apparatus of people — characteristically 
called a 'machine' in Anglo-Saxon countries — or rather those who direct 
the machine, keep the members of the parliament in check. They are in 
a position to impose their will to a rather far-reaching extent, and that is 
of special significance for the selection of the party leader. The man 
whom the machine follows now becomes the leader, even over the head 
of the parliamentary party. In other words, the creation of such machines 
signifies the advent of plebiscitarian democracy. 

The party following, above all the party official and party entrepre- 
neur, naturally expect personal compensation from the victory of their 
leader — ^that is, offices or other advantages. It is decisive that they expect 
such advantages from their leader and not merely from the individual 
member of parliament. They expect that the demagogic effect of the 
leader's personality during the election fight of the party will increase 
votes and mandates and thereby power, and, thereby, as far as possible, 
will extend opportunities to their followers to find the compensation for 
which they hope. Ideally, one of their mainsprings is the satisfaction of 
working with loyal personal devotion for a man, and not merely for an 
abstract program of a party consisting of mediocrities. In this respect, the 
'charismatic' element of all leadership is at work in the party system. 

In very different degrees this system made headway, although it was 
in constant, latent struggle with local notables and the members of par- 
liament who wrangled for influence. This was the case in the bourgeois 
parties, first, in the United States, and, then, in the Social Democratic 
party, especially of Germany. Constant setbacks occur as soon as no gen- 
erally recognized leader exists, and, even when he is found, concessions of 
all sorts must be made to the vanity and the personal interest of the party 
notables. The machine may also be brought under the domination of the 
party officials in whose hands the regular business rests. According to 
the view of some Social Democratic circles, their party had succumbed 
to this 'bureaucratization.' But 'officials' submit relatively easily to a 
leader's personality if it has a strong demagogic appeal. The material 


and the ideal interests of the officials are intimately connected with 
the effects of party power which are expected from the leader's appeal, 
and besides, inwardly it is per se more satisfying to work for a leader. 
The ascent of leaders is far more difficult where the notables, along 
with the officials, control the party, as is usually the case in the bourgeois 
parties. For ideally the notables make 'their way of life' out of the 
petty chairmanships or committee memberships they hold. Resentment 
against the demagogue as a homo nouns, the conviction of the superi- 
ority of political party 'experience' (which, as a matter of fact, actually 
is of considerable importance), and the ideological concern for the 
crumbling of the old party traditions — these factors determine the con- 
duct of the notables. They can count on all the traditionalist elements 
within the party. Above all, the rural but also the petty bourgeois 
voter looks for the name of the notable familiar to him. He distrusts the 
man who is unknown to him. However, once this man has become 
successful, he clings to him the more unwaveringly. Let us now con- 
sider, by some major examples, the struggle of the two structural forms 
— of the notables and of the party — and especially let us consider the 
ascendancy of the plebiscitarian form as described by Ostrogorsky. 

First England: there until i(S68 the party organization was almost 
purely an organization of notables. The Tories in the country found 
support, for instance, from the Anglican parson, and from the school- 
master, and above all from the large landlords of the respective county. 
The Whigs found support mostly from such people as the nonconformist 
preacher (when there was one), the postmaster, the blacksmith, the tailor, 
the ropemaker — that is, from such artisans who could disseminate political 
influence because they could chat with people most frequently. In the 
city the parties differed, partly according to economics, partly according 
to religion, and partly simply according to the party opinions handed 
down in the families. But always the notables were the pillars of the 
political organization. 

Above all these arrangements stood Parliament, the parties with the 
cabinet, and the 'leader,' who was the chairman of the council of min- 
isters or the leader of the opposition. This leader had beside him the 
'whip' — the most important professional politician of the party organiza- 
tion. Patronage of office was vested in the hands of the 'whip'; thus the 
job hunter had to turn to him and he arranged an understanding with 
the deputies of the individual election boroughs. A stratum of profes- 
sional politicians gradually began to develop in the boroughs. At first 


the locally recruited agents were not paid; they occupied approximately 
the same position as our Vertrauens manner.^ However, along with them, 
a capitalist entrepreneurial type developed in the boroughs. This was the 
'election agent,' whose existence was unavoidable under England's mod- 
ern legislation which guaranteed fair elections. 

This legislation aimed at controlling the campaign costs of elections 
and sought to check the power of money by making it obligatory for 
the candidate to state the costs of his campaign. For in England, the 
candidate, besides straining his voice — far more so than was formerly 
the case with us [in Germany] — enjoyed stretching his purse. The elec- 
tion agent made the candidate pay a lump sum, which usually meant a 
good deal for the agent. In the distribution of power in Parliament and 
the country between the 'leader' and the party notables, the leader in 
England used to hold a very eminent position. This position was based 
on the compelling fact of making possible a grand, and thereby steady, 
political strategy. Nevertheless the influence of the parliamentary party 
and of party notables was still considerable. 

That is about what the old party organization looked like. It was half 
an affair of notables and half an entrepreneurial organization with 
salaried employees. Since 1868, however, the 'caucus' system developed, 
first for local elections in Birmingham, then all over the country. A 
nonconformist parson and along with him Joseph Chamberlain brought 
this system to life. The occasion for this development was the democrati- 
zation of the franchise. In order to win the masses it became necessary 
to call into being a tremendous apparatus of apparently democratic asso- 
ciations. An electoral association had to be formed in every city district 
to help keep the organization incessantly in motion and to bureaucratize 
everything rigidly. Hence, hired and paid officials of the local electoral 
committees increased numerically; and, on the whole, perhaps 10 per 
cent of the voters were organized in these local committees. The elected 
party managers had the right to co-opt others and were the formal bear- 
ers of party politics. The driving force was the local circle, which was, 
above all, composed of those interested in municipal politics — from which 
the fattest material opportunities always spring. These local circles were 
also first to call upon the world of finance. This newly emerging machine, 
which was no longer led by members of Parliament, very soon had to 
struggle with the previous power-holders, above all, with the 'whip.' Be- 
ing supported by locally interested persons, the machine came out of the 
fight so victoriously that the whip had to submit and compromise with 


the machine. The result was a centraHzation of all power in the hands 
o£ the few and, ultimately, of the one person who stood at the top of the 
party. The whole system had arisen in the Liberal party in connection 
with Gladstone's ascent to power. What brought this machine to such 
swift triumph over the notables was the fascination of Gladstone's 'grand' 
demagogy, the firm belief of the masses in the ethical substance of his 
policy, and, above all, their belief in the ethical character of his person- 
ality. It soon became obvious that a Caesarist plebiscitarian element in 
politics — the dictator of the battlefield of elections — had appeared on the 
plain. In 1877 the caucus became active for the first time in national 
elections, and with brilliant success, for the result was Disraeli's fall at 
the height of his great achievements. In 1866, the machine was already 
so completely oriented to the charismatic personality that when the ques- 
tion of home rule was raised the whole apparatus from top to bottom 
did not question whether it actually stood on Gladstone's ground; it 
simply, on his word, fell in line with him: they said, Gladstone right or 
wrong, we follow him. And thus the machine deserted its own creator, 

Such machinery requires a considerable personnel. In England there 
are about 2,000 persons who live directly off party politics. To be sure, 
those who are active in politics purely as job seekers or as interested 
persons are far more numerous, especially in municipal politics. In addi- 
tion to economic opportunities, for the useful caucus politician, there are 
the opportunities to satisfy his vanity. To become 'J-P-' or even 'M.P.' is, 
of course, in line with the greatest (and normal) ambition; and such 
people, who are of demonstrably good breeding, that is, 'gentlemen,' at- 
tain their goal. The highest goal is, of course, a peerage, especially for 
the great financial Maecenases. About 50 per cent of the finances of the 
party depend on contributions of donors who remained anonymous. 

Now then, what has been the effect of this whole system? Nowadays 
the members of Parliament, with the exception of the few cabinet 
members (and a few insurgents), are normally nothing better than well- 
disciplined 'yes' men. With us, in the Reichstag, one used at least to 
take care of one's private correspondence on his desk, thus indicating 
that one was active in the weal of the country. Such gestures are not de- 
manded in England; the member of Parliament must only vote, not 
commit party treason. He must appear when the whips call him, and do 
what the cabinet or the leader of the opposition orders. The caucus ma- 
chine in the open country is almost completely unprincipled if a strong 


leader exists who has the machine absolutely in hand. Therewith the 
plebiscitarian dictator actually stands above Parliament. He brings the 
masses behind him by means of the machine and the members of ParUa- 
ment are for him merely poHtical spoilsmen enrolled in his following. 

How does the selection of these strong leaders take place? First, in 
terms of what abihty are they selected? Next to the qualities of will — 
decisive all over the world — naturally the force of demagogic speech is 
above all decisive. Its character has changed since the time speakers like 
Cobden addressed themselves to the intellect, and Gladstone who mas- 
tered the technique of apparently 'letting sober facts speak for themselves.' 
At the present time often purely emotional means are used — the means 
the Salvation Army also exploits in order to set the masses in motion. 
One may call the existing state of affairs a 'dictatorship resting on the 
exploitation of mass emotionality.' Yet, the highly developed system of 
committee work in the English Parliament makes it possible and com- 
pelling for every politician who counts on a share in leadership to co- 
operate in committee work. All important ministers of recent decades have 
this very real and effective work-training as a background. The practice 
of committee reports and public criticism of these deliberations is a con- 
dition for training, for really selecting leaders and eliminating mere 

Thus it is in England. The caucus system there, however, has been 
a weak form, compared with the American party organization, which 
brought the plebiscitarian principle to an especially early and an espe- 
cially pure expression. 

According to Washington's idea, America was to be a commonwealth 
administered by gentlemen.' In his time, in America, a gentleman was 
also a landlord, or a man with a college education — this was the case at 
first. In the beginning, when parties began to organize, the members of 
the House of Representatives claimed to be leaders, just as in England at 
the time when notables ruled. The party organization was quite loose 
and continued to be until 1824. In some communities, where modern de- 
velopment first took place, the party machine was in the making even 
before the eighteen-twenties. But when Andrew Jackson was first elected 
President — the election of the western farmers' candidate — the old tradi- 
tions were overthrown. Formal party leadership by leading members of 
Congress came to an end soon after 1840, when the great parliamen- 
tarians, Calhoun and Webster, retired from political life because Congress 
had lost almost all of its power to the party machine in the open coun- 


try. That the plebiscitarian 'machine' has developed so early in America 
is due to the fact that there, and there alone, the executive — this is what 
mattered — the chief of office-patronage, was a President elected by pleb- 
iscite. By virtue of the 'separation of powers' he was almost inde- 
pendent of parliament in his conduct of office. Hence, as the price of 
victory, the true booty object of the office-prebend was held out pre- 
cisely at the presidential election. Through Andrew Jackson the 'spoils 
system' was quite systematically raised to a principle and the conclusions 
were drawn. 

What does this spoils system, the turning over of federal offices to the 
following of the victorious candidate, mean for the party formations of 
today? It means that quite unprincipled parties oppose one another; they 
are purely organizations of job hunters drafting their changing platforms 
according to the chances of vote-grabbing, changing their colors to a de- 
gree which, despite all analogies, is not yet to be found elsewhere. The 
parties are simply and absolutely fashioned for the election campaign 
that is most important for office patronage: the fight for the presidency 
and for the governorships of the separate states. Platforms and candidates 
are selected at the national conventions of the parties without interven- 
tion by congressmen. Hence they emerge from party conventions, the 
delegates of which are formally, very democratically elected. These dele- 
gates are determined by meetings of other delegates, who, in turn, owe 
their mandate to the 'primaries,' the assembling of the direct voters of 
the party. In the primaries the delegates are already elected in the name 
of the candidate for the nation's leadership. Within the parties the most 
embittered fight rages about the question of 'nomination.' After all, 
300,000 to 400,000 official appointments lie in the hands of the President, 
appointments which are executed by him only with the approval of the 
senators from the separate states. Hence the senators are powerful politi- 
cians. By comparison, however, the House of Representatives is, politi- 
cally, quite impotent, because patronage of office is removed from it and 
because the cabinet members, simply assistants to the President, can con- 
duct office apart from the confidence or lack of confidence of the people. 
The President, who is legitimatized by the people, confronts everybody, 
even Congress; this is a result of 'the separation of powers.' 

In America, the spoils system, supported in this fashion, has been 
technically possible because American culture with its youth could afford 
purely dilettante management. With 300,000 to 400,000 such party men 
who have no qualifications to their credit other than the fact of having 


performed good services for their party, this state of affairs of course 
could not exist without enormous evils. A corruption and wastefulness 
second to none could be tolerated only by a country with as yet unlimited 
economic opportunities. 

Now then, the boss is the figure who appears in the picture of this 
system of the plebiscitarian party machine. Who is the boss? He is a 
political capitalist entrepreneur who on his own account and at his own 
risk provides votes. He may have established his first relations as a 
lawyer or a saloonkeeper or as a proprietor of similar establishments, or 
perhaps as a creditor. From here he spins his threads out until he is 
able to 'control' a certain number of votes. When he has come this far 
he establishes contact with the neighboring bosses, and through zeal, 
skill, and above all discretion, he attracts the attention of those who have 
already further advanced in the career, and then he climbs. The boss is 
indispensable to the organization of the party and the organization is cen- 
tralized in his hands. He substantially provides the financial means. How 
does he get them ? Well, partly by the contributions of the members, and 
especially by taxing the salaries of those officials who came into office 
through him and his party. Furthermore, there are bribes and tips. He 
who wishes to trespass with impunity one of the many laws needs the 
boss's connivance and must pay for it; or else he will get into trouble. 
But this alone is not enough to accumulate the necessary capital for 
political enterprises. The boss is indispensable as the direct recipient of 
the money of great financial magnates, who would not entrust their 
money for election purposes to a paid party official, or to anyone else 
giving public account of his affairs. The boss, with his judicious discre- 
tion in financial matters, is the natural man for those capitalist circles 
who finance the election. The typical boss is an absolutely sober man. He 
does not seek social honor; the 'professional' is despised in 'respectable 
society,' He seeks power alone, power as a source of money, but also 
power for power's sake. In contrast to the English leader, the American 
boss works in the dark. He is not heard speaking in public; he suggests 
to the speakers what they must say in expedient fashion. He himself, 
however, keeps silent. As a rule he acfepts no office, except that of senator. 
For, since the senators, by virtue of the Constitution, participate in 
office patronage, the leading bosses often sit in person in this body. The 
distribution of offices is carried out, in the first place, according to services 
done for the party. But, also, auctioning offices on financial bids often 
occurs and there are certain rates for individual offices; hence, a system 


of selling offices exists which, after all, has often been known also to 
the monarchies, the church-state included, of the seventeenth and eight- 
eenth centuries. 

The boss has no firm political 'principles'; he is completely unprin- 
cipled in attitude and asks merely: What will capture votes? Frequently 
he is a rather poorly educated man. But as a rule he leads an inoffen- 
sive and correct private life. In his political morals, however, he naturally 
adjusts to the average ethical standards of political conduct, as a great 
many of us also may have done during the hoarding period in the field of 
economic ethics.*^ That as a 'professional' politician the boss is socially de- 
spised does not worry him. That he personally does not attain high federal 
offices, and does not wish to do so, has the frequent advantage that 
extra-party intellects, thus notables, may come into candidacy when the 
bosses believe they will have great appeal value at the polls. Hence the 
same old party notables do not run again and again, as is the case in Ger- 
many. Thus the structure of these unprincipled parties with their so- 
cially despised power-holders has aided able men to attain the presidency 
— men who with us never would have come to the top. To be sure, the 
bosses resist an outsider who might jeopardize their sources of money 
and power. Yet in the competitive struggle to win the favor of the vot- 
ers, the bosses frequently have had to condescend and accept candidates 
known to be opponents of corruption. 

Thus there exists a strong capitalist party machine, strictly and thor- 
oughly organized from top to bottom, and supported by clubs of ex- 
traordinary stability. These clubs, such as Tammany Hall, are like 
Knight orders. They seek profits solely through political control, espe- 
cially of the municipal government, which is the most important object 
of booty. This structure of party life was made possible by the high de- 
gree of democracy in the United States — a 'New Country.' This connec- 
tion, in turn, is the basis for the fact that the system is gradually dying 
out. America can no longer be governed only by dilettantes. Scarcely fif- 
teen years ago, when American workers were asked why they allowed 
themselves to be governed by politicians whom they admitted they de- 
spised, the answer was: 'We prefer having people in office whom we can 
spit upon, rather than a caste of officials who spit upon us, as is the case 
with you.' This was the old point of view of American 'democracy.' Even 
then, the socialists had entirely different ideas and now the situation is 
no longer bearable. The dilettante administration does not suffice and 
the Civil Service Reform establishes an ever-increasing number of posi- 


tions for life with pension rights. The reform works out in such a way 
that university-trained officials, just as incorruptible and quite as capable 
as our officials, get into office. Even now about 100,000 offices have ceased 
being objects of booty to be turned over after elections. Rather, the 
offices quahfy their holders for pensions, and are based upon tested quali- 
fications. The spoils system will thus gradually recede into the back- 
ground and the nature of party leadership is then likely to be transformed 
also — but as yet, we do not know in what way. 

In Germany, until now, the decisive conditions of political manage- 
ment have been in essence as follows: 

First, the parliaments have been impotent. The result has been that 
no man with the qualities of a leader would enter Parhament perma- 
nently. If one wished to enter Parliament, what could one achieve there ? 
When a chancellery position was open, one could tell the administrative 
chief: 'I have a very able man in my election district who would be suit- 
able; take him.' And he would have concurred with pleasure; but that 
was about all that a German member of Parliament could do to satisfy 
his instincts for power — if he possessed any. 

To this must be added the tremendous importance of the trained ex- 
pert officialdom in Germany. This factor determined the impotence of 
Parhament. Our officialdom was second to none in the world. This im- 
portance of the officialdom was accompanied by the fact that the officials 
claimed not only official positions but also cabinet positions for them- 
selves. In the Bavarian state legislature, when the introduction of parlia- 
mentary government was debated last year, it was said that if members 
of the legislature were to be placed in cabinet positions talented people 
would no longer seek official careers. Moreover, the civil-service adminis- 
tration systematically escaped such control as is signified by the English 
committee discussions. The administration thus made it impossible for 
parliaments — with a few exceptions — to train really useful administrative 
chiefs from their own ranks. 

A third factor is that in Germany, in contrast to America, we have had 
parties with principled political views who have maintained that their 
members, at least subjectively, represented bona-fide Weltanschauungen. 
Now then, the two most important of these parties, the Catholic Centre 
Party and the Social Democratic party, have, from their inceptions, been 
minority parties and have meant to be minority parties. The leading circles 
of the Centre party in the Reich have never concealed their opposition to 
parliamentarian democracy, because of fear of remaining in the minority 


and thus facing great difficulties in placing their job hunters in office as 
they have done by exerting pressure on the government. The Social 
Democratic party v^^as a principled minority party and a handicap to the 
introduction of parliamentary government because the party did not 
wish to stain itself by participating in the existing bourgeois political 
order. The fact that both parties dissociated themselves from the parlia- 
mentary system made parliamentary government impossible. 

Considering all this, what then became of the professional politicians 
in Germany? They have had no power, no responsibility, and could play 
only a rather subordinate role as notables. In consequence, they have 
been animated anew by the guild instincts, which are typical everywhere. 
It has been impossible for a man who was not of their hue to climb 
high in the circle of those notables who made their petty positions their 
Hves. I could mention many names from every party, the Social Demo- 
cratic party, of course, not excepted, that spell tragedies of political 
careers because the persons had leadership qualities, and precisely because 
of these qualities were not tolerated by the notables. All our parties have 
taken this course of development and have become guilds of notables. 
Bebel, for instance, was still a leader through temperament and purity 
of character, however modest his intellect. The fact that he was a 
martyr, that he never betrayed confidence in the eyes of the masses, re- 
sulted in his having the masses absolutely behind him. There was no 
power in the party that could have seriously challenged him. Such leader- 
ship came to an end, after his death, and the rule of officials began. 
Trade-union officials, party secretaries, and journalists came to the top. 
The instincts of officialdom dominated the party — a highly respectable 
officialdom, of rare respectability one may say, compared to conditions 
in other countries, especially the often corruptible trade-union officials in 
America. But the results of control by officialdom, which we discussed 
above, also began in the party. 

Since the eighteen-eighties the bourgeois parties have completely be- 
come guilds of notables. To be sure, occasionally the parties had to 
draw on extra-party intellects for advertising purposes, so that they could 
say, 'We have such and such names.' So far as possible, they avoided 
letting these names run for election; only when it was unavoidable and 
the person insisted could he run for election. The same spirit prevailed 
in Parliament. Our parliamentary parties were and are guilds. Every 
speech delivered from the floor of the Reichstag is thoroughly censored 
in the party before it is delivered. This is obvious from their unheard-of 


boredom. Only he who is summoned to speak can have the word. One 
can hardly conceive of a stronger contrast to the English, and also — for 
quite opposite reasons — the French usage. 

Now, in consequence of the enormous collapse, which is customarily 
called the Revolution, perhaps a transformation is under way. Perhaps — 
but not for certain. In the beginning there were new kinds of party ap- 
paratuses emerging. First, there were amateur apparatuses. They are 
especially often represented by students of the various universities, who 
tell a man to whom they ascribe leadership qualities: we want to do the 
necessary work for you; carry it out. Secondly, there are apparatuses of 
businessmen. It happened that men to whom leadership qualities were 
ascribed were approached by people willing to take over the propaganda, 
at fixed rates for every vote. If you were to ask me honestly which of 
these two apparatuses I think the more reliable, from the purely techni- 
cal-political point of view, I believe I would prefer the latter. But both 
apparatuses were fast-emerging bubbles, which swiftly vanished again. 
The existing apparatuses transformed themselves, but they continued to 
work. The phenomena are only symptoms of the fact that new appa- 
ratuses would come about if there were only leaders. But even the 
technical peculiarity of proportionate representation precluded their 
ascendancy. Only a few dictators of the street crowds arose and fell again. 
And only the following of a mob dictatorship is organized in a strictly 
disciplined fashion: whence the power of these vanishing minorities. 

Let us assume that all this were to change; then, after what has been 
said above, it has to be clearly realized that the plebiscitarian leadership 
of parties entails the 'soullessness' of the following, their intellectual pro- 
letarianization, one might say. In order to be a useful apparatus, a ma- 
chine in the American sense — undisturbed either by the vanity of no- 
tables or pretensions to independent views — the following of such a leader 
must obey him blindly. Lincoln's election was possible only through this 
character of party organization, and with Gladstone, as mentioned be- 
fore, the same happened in the caucus. This is simply the price paid 
for guidance by leaders. However, there is only the choice between leader- 
ship democracy with a 'machine' and leaderless democracy, namely, the 
rule of professional politicians without a calling, without the inner 
charismatic qualities that make a leader, and this means what the 
party insurgents in the situation usually designate as 'the rule of the 
clique.' For the time being, we in Germany have only the latter. For 
the future, the permanence of this situation, at least in the Reich, is pri- 


marily facilitated by the fact that the Bundesrat ^ will rise again and will 
of necessity restrict the power of the Reichstag and therewith its sig- 
nificance as a selective agency of leaders. Moreover, in its present form, 
proportional representation is a typical phenomenon of leaderless democ- 
racy. This is the case not only because it facilitates the horse-trading of 
the notables for placement on the ticket, but also because in the future it 
will give organized interest groups the possibility of compelling parties to 
include their officials in the list of candidates, thus creating an unpolitical 
Parliament in which genuine leadership finds no place. Only the President 
of the Reich could become the safety-valve of the demand for leadership 
if he were elected in a plebiscitarian way and not by Parliament. Lead- 
ership on the basis of proved work could emerge and selection could 
take place, especially if, in great municipalities, the plebiscitarian city- 
manager were to appear on the scene with the right to organize his 
bureaus independently. Such is the case in the U.S.A. whenever one 
wishes to tackle corruption seriously. It requires a party organization 
fashioned for such elections. But the very petty-boucgeois hostility of 
all parties to leaders, the Social Democratic party certainly included, 
leaves the future formation of parties and all these chances still com- 
pletely in the dark. 

rrherefore, today, one cannot yet see in any way how the manage- 
ment of politics as a 'vocation' will shape itself. Even less can one see 
along what avenue opportunities are opening to which political talents 
can be put for satisfactory political tasks. He who by his material circum- 
stances is compelled to live 'off' politics will almost always have to con- 
sider the alternative positions of the journalist or the party official as the 
typical direct avenues. Or, he must consider a position as representative 
of interest groups — such as a trade union, a chamber of commerce, a farm 
bureau,* a craft association,^ a labor board, an employer's association, 
et cetera, or else a suitable municipal position. Nothing more than this 
can be said about this external aspect: in common with the journalist, 
the party official bears the odium of being declasse. 'Wage writer' or 
'wage speaker' will unfortunately always resound in his ears, even 
though the words remain unexpressed. He who is inwardly defenseless 
and unable to find the proper answer for himself had.better stay away 
from this career. For in any case, besides grave temptations, it is an 
avenue that may constantly lead to disappointments. Now then, what 
inner enjoyments can this career offer and what personal conditions are 
presupposed for one who enters this avenue? 


Well, first of all the career of politics grants a feeling of power. The 
knowledge of influencing men, of participating in power over them, 
and above all, the feeling of holding in one's hands a nerve fiber of his- 
torically important events can elevate the professional politician above 
everyday routine even when he is placed in formally modest positions. 
But now the question for him is: Through what qualities can I hope to 
do justice to this power (however narrowly circumscribed it may be in 
the individual case) ? How can he hope to do justice to the responsi- 
bility that power imposes upon him? With this we enter the field of 
ethical questions, for that is where the problem belongs: What kind of a 
man must one be if he is to be allowed to put his hand on the wheel 
of history? 

One can say that three pre-eminent qualities are decisive for the poli- 
tician : passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a sense of proportion. 

This means passion in the sense of matter-of-jactness, of passionate de- 
votion to a 'cause,' to the god or demon who is its overlord. It is not 
passion in the sense of that inner bearing which my late friend, Georg 
Simmel, used to designate as 'sterile excitation,' and which was peculiar 
especially to a certain type of Russian intellectual (by no means all of 
them!). It is an excitation that plays so great a part with our intellectuals 
in this carnival we decorate with the proud name of 'revolution.' It is a 
'romanticism of the intellectually interesting,' running into emptiness 
devoid of all feeling of objective responsibility. 

To be sure, mere passion, however genuinely felt, is not enough. It 
does not make a politician, unless passion as devotion to a 'cause' also 
makes responsibility to this cause the guiding star of action. And for this, 
a sense of proportion is needed. This is the decisive psychological quality 
of the poHtician: his ability to let realities woric upon him with inner 
concentration and calmness. Hence his -distance to thino-s and men. 'Lack 


of distance' per se is one of the deadly sins of every politician. It is one 
of those qualities the breeding of which will condemn the progeny of 
our intellectuals to political incapacity. For the problem is simply how 
can warm passion and a cool sense of proportion be forged together in 
one and the same soul? Politics is made with the head, not with other 
parts of the body or soul. And yet devotion to politics, if it is not to be 
frivolous intellectual play but rather genuinely human conduct, can be 
born and nourished from passion alone.- However, that firm taming of 
the soul, which distinguishes the passionate politician and diflferentiates 
him from the 'sterilely excited' and mere political dilettante, is possible 


only through habituation to detachment in every sense of the word. The 
'strength' of a pohtical 'personaHty' means, in the first place, the posses- 
sion of these qualities of passion, responsibility, and proportion. 

Therefore, daily and hourly, the politician inwardly has to overcome 
a quite trivial and all-too-human enemy: a quite vulgar vanity, the 
deadly enemy of all matter-of-fact devotion to a cause, and of all dis- 
tance, in this case, of distance towards one's self. 

Vanity is a very widespread quality and perhaps nobody is entirely 
free from it. In academic and scholarly circles, vanity is a sort of occu- 
pational disease, but precisely with the scholar, vanity — however disagree- 
ably it may express itself — is relatively harmless; in the sense that as a 
rule it does not disturb scientific enterprise. With the poHtician the case 
is quite different. He works with the striving for power as an unavoid- 
able means. Therefore, 'power instinct,' as is usually said, belongs indeed 
to his normal qualities. The sin against the lofty spirit of his vocation, 
however, begins where this striving for power ceases to be objective and 
becomes purely personal self-intoxication, instead of exclusively entering 
the service of 'the cause.' For ultimately there are only two kinds of 
deadly sins in the field of politics: lack of objectivity and — often but not 
always identical with it — irresponsibility. Vanity, the need personally to 
stand in the foreground as clearly as possible, strongly tempts the poli- 
tician to commit one or both of these sins. This is more truly the case 
as the demagogue is compelled to count upon 'effect.' He therefore 
is constantly in danger of becoming an actor as well as taking lightly 
the responsibility for the outcome of his actions and of being concerned 
merely with the 'impression' he makes. His lack of objectivity tempts 
him to strive for the glamorous semblance of power rather than for 
actual power. His irresponsibility, however, suggests that he enjoy power 
merely for power's sake without a substantive purpose. Although, or 
rather just because, power is the unavoidable means, and striving for 
power is one of the driving forces of all politics, there is no more harmful 
distortion of political force than the parvenu-like braggart with power, 
and the vain self-reflection in the feeling of power, and in general 
every worship of power per se. The mere 'power politician' may get 
strong effects, but actually his work leads nowhere and is seifseless. 
(Among us, too, an ardently promoted cult seeks to glorify him.) In this, 
the critics of 'power politics' are absolutely right. From the sudden 
inner collapse of typical representatives of this mentality, we can see 
what inner weakness and impotence hides behind this boastful but en- 


tirely empty gesture. It is a product of a shoddy and superficially 
blase attitude towards the meaning of human conduct; and it has no re- 
lation whatsoever to the knowledge of tragedy with which all action, 
but especially political action, is truly interwoven. 

The final result of political action often, no, even regularly, stands 
in completely inadequate and often even paradoxical relation to its 
original meaning. This is fundamental to all history, a point not to be 
proved in detail here. But because of this fact, the serving of a cause 
must not be absent if action is to have inner strength. Exactly what 
the cause, in the service of which the politician strives for power and 
uses power, looks like is a matter of faith. The politician may serve 
national, humanitarian, social, ethical, cultural, worldly, or religious 
ends. The politician may be sustained by a strong belief in 'progress' — 
no matter in which sense — or he may coolly reject this kind of belief. 
He may claim to stand in the service of an 'idea' or, rejecting this in 
principle, he may want to serve external ends of everyday life. However, 
some kind of faith must always exist. Otherwise, it is absolutely true that 
the curse of the creature's worthlessness overshadows even the externally 
strongest political successes. 

With the statement above we are already engaged in discussing the 
last problem that concerns us tonight: the ethos of politics as a 'cause.' 
What calling can politics fulfil quite independently of its goals within 
the total ethical economy of human conduct — which is, so to speak, 
the ethical locus where politics is at home? Here, to be sure, ultimate 
W eltanschauungen clash, world views among which in the end one has 
to make a choice. Let us resolutely tackle this problem, which recently 
has been opened again, in my view in a very wrong way. 

But first, let us free ourselves from a quite trivial falsification: namely, 
that ethics may first appear in a morally highly compromised role. Let 
us consider examples. Rarely will you find that a man whose love turns 
from one woman to another feels no need to legitimate this before him- 
self by saying: she was not worthy of my love, or, she has disappointed 
me, or whatever other like 'reasons' exist. This is an attitude that, with 
a profound lack of chivalry, adds a fancied 'legitimacy' to the plain fact 
that he no longer loves her and that the woman has to bear it. By virtue 
of this 'legitimation,' the man claims a right for himself and besides 
causing the misfortune seeks to put her in the wrong. The successful 
amatory competitor proceeds exactly in the same way: namely, the 
opponent must be less worthy, otherwise he would not have lost out. 


It is no different, of course, if after a victorious war the victor in undig- 
nified self-righteousness claims, 'I have won because I was right.' Or, 
if somebody under the frightfulness of war collapses psychologically, and 
instead of simply saying it was just too much, he feels the need of legiti- 
mizing his war weariness to himself by substituting the feeling, 'I could 
not bear it because I had to fight for a morally bad cause.' And likewise 
with the defeated in war. Instead of searching like old women for the 
'guilty one' after the war — in a situation in which the structure of society 
produced the war — everyone with a manly and controlled attitude would 
tell the enemy, 'We lost the war. You have won it. That is now all over. 
Now let us discuss what conclusions must be drawn according to the 
objective interests that came into play and what is the main thing in 
view of the responsibility towards the future which above all burdens 
the victor.' Anything else is undignified and will become a boomerang. 
A nation forgives if its interests have been damaged, but no nation 
forgives if its honor has been offended, especially by a bigoted self- 
righteousness. Every new document that comes to light after decades 
revives the undignified lamentations, the hatred and scorn, instead of 
allowing the war at its end to be buried, at least morally. This is possible 
only through objectivity and chivalry and above all only through dig- 
nity. But never is it possible through an 'ethic,' which in truth signifies 
a lack of dignity on both sides. Instead of being concerned about what 
the politician is interested in, the future and the responsibility towards 
the future, this ethic is concerned about politically sterile questions of 
past guilt, which are not to be settled politically. To act in this way is 
politically guilty, if such guilt exists at all. And it overlooks the unavoid- 
able falsification of the whole problem, through very material interests: 
namely, the victor's interest in the greatest possible moral and material 
gain; the hopes of the defeated to trade in advantages through confes- 
sions of guilt. If anything is 'vulgar,' then, this is, and it is the result of 
this fashion of exploiting 'ethics' as a means of 'being in the right.' 

Now then, what relations do ethics and politics actually have.'' Have 
the two nothing whatever to do with one another, as has occasionally 
been said? Or, is the reverse true: that the ethic of political conduct is 
identical with that of any other conduct ? Occasionally an exclusive choice 
has been believed to exist between the two propositions — either the one 
or the other proposition must be correct. But is it true that any ethic 
of the world could establish commandments of identical content for 
erotic, business, familial, and official relations; for the relations to one's 


wife, to the greengrocer, the son, the competitor, the friend, the defend- 
ant? Should it really matter so little for the ethical demands on politics 
that politics operates with very special means, namely, power backed up 
by violence? Do we not see that the Bolshevik and the Spartacist ideolo- 
gists bring about exactly the same results as any militaristic dictator just 
because they use this political means? In what but the persons of the 
power-holders and their dilettantism does the rule of the workers' and 
soldiers' councils differ from the rule of any power-holder of the old 
regime? In what way does the polemic of most representatives of the 
presumably new ethic differ 'from that of the opponents which they 
criticized, or the ethic of any other demagogues ? In their noble intention, 
people will say. Good! But it is the means about which we speak here, 
and the adversaries, in complete subjective sincerity, claim, in the very 
same way, that their ultimate intentions are of lofty character. 'All they 
that take the sword shall perish with the sword' and fighting is every- 
where fighting. Hence, the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount. 

By the Sermon on the Mount, we mean the absolute ethic of the 
gospel, which is a more serious matter than those who are fond of 
quoting these commandments today believe. This ethic is lio joking 
matter. The same holds for this ethic as has been said of causality in 
science: it is not a cab, which one can have stopped at one's pleasure; it is 
all or nothing. This is precisely the meaning of the gospel, if trivialities 
are not to result. Hence, for instance, it was said of the wealthy young 
man, 'He went away sorrowful : for he had great possessions.' The evange- 
list commandment, however, is unconditional and unambiguous: give 
what thou hast — absolutely everything. The politician will say that this 
is a socially senseless imposition as long as it is not carried out every- 
where. Thus the politician upholds taxation, confiscatory taxation, out- 
right confiscation; in a word, compulsion and regulation for all. The 
ethical commandment, however, is not at all concerned about that, and 
this unconcern is its essence. Or, take the example, 'turn the other 
cheek': This command is unconditional and does not question the source 
of the other's authority to strike. Except for a saint it is an ethic of 
indignity. This is it: one must be saintly in everything; at least in inten- 
tion, one must live like Jesus, the apostles, St. Francis, and their like. 
Then this ethic makes sense and expresses a kind of dignity; otherwise 
it does not. For if it is said, in line with the acosmic ethic of love, 
'Resist not him that is evil with force,' for the politician the reverse 
proposition holds, 'thou shalt resist evil by force,' or else you are re- 


sponsible for the evil winning out. He who wishes to follow the ethic 
of the gospel should abstain from strikes, for strikes mean compulsion; 
he may join the company unions. Above all things, he should not talk 
of 'revolution.' After all, the ethic of the gospel does not wish to teach 
that civil war is the only legitimate war. The pacifist who follows the 
gospel will refuse to bear arms or will throw them down; in Germany 
this was the recommended ethical duty to end the war and therewith all 
wars. The politician would say the only sure means to discredit the 
war for all foreseeable time would have been a status quo peace. Then 
the nations would have questioned, what was this war for? And then 
the war would have been argued ad ahsurdum, which is now impossible. 
For the victors, at least for part of them, the war will have been politically 
profitable. And the responsibility for this rests on behavior that made all 
resistance impossible for us. Now, as a result of the ethics of absolutism, 
when the period of exhaustion will have passed, the peace will be dis- 
credited, not the war. 

Finally, let us consider the duty of truthfulness. For the absolute ethic 
it holds unconditionally. Hence the conclusion was reached to publish 
all documents, especially those placing blame on one's own country. On 
the basis of these one-sided publications the confessions of guilt followed 
— and they were one-sided, unconditional, and without regard to con- 
sequences. The politician will find that as a result truth will not be 
furthered but certainly obscured through abuse and unleashing of pas- 
sion; only an all-round methodical investigation by non-partisans could 
bear fruit; any other procedure may have consequences for a nation 
that cannot be remedied for decades. But the absolute ethic just does not 
asJ{^ for 'consequences.' That is the decisive point. 

We must be clear about the fact that all ethically oriented conduct may 
be guided by one of two fundamentally differing and irreconcilably op- 
posed maxims: conduct can be oriented to an 'ethic of ultimate ends' 
or to an 'ethic of responsibility.' This is not to say that an ethic of ultimate 
ends is identical with irresponsibility, or that an ethic of responsibility 
is identical with unprincipled opportunism. Naturally nobody says that. 
However, there is an abysmal contrast between conduct that follows the 
maxim of an ethic of ultimate ends — that is, in religious terms, 'The 
Christian does rightly and leaves the results with the Lord' — and conduct 
that follows the maxim of an ethic of responsibility, in which case one 
has to give an account of the foreseeable results of one's action. 

You may demonstrate to a convinced syndicalist, believing in an ethic 


of ultimate ends, that his action will result in increasing the oppor- 
tunities of reaction, in increasing the oppression of his class, and ob- 
structing its ascent — and you will not make the slightest impression upon 
him. If an action of good intent leads to bad results, then, in the actor's 
eyes, not he but the world, or the stupidity of other men, or God's will 
who made them thus, is responsible for the evil. However a man who 
believes in an ethic of responsibility takes account of precisely the aver- 
age deficiences of people; as Fichte has correctly said, he does not even 
have the right to presuppose their goodness and perfection. He does not 
feel in a position to burden others with the results of his own actions so 
far as he was able to foresee them; he will say: these results are ascribed 
to my action. The believer in an ethic of ultimate ends feels 'responsible' 
only for seeing to it that the flame of pure intentions is not quelched: 
for example, the flame of protesting against the injustice of the social 
order. To rekindle the flame ever anew is the purpose of his quite 
irrational deeds, judged in view of their possible success. They are acts 
that can and shall have only exemplary value. 

But even herewith the problem is not yet exhausted. No ethics in the 
world can dodge the fact that in numerous instances the attainment of 
'good' ends is bound to the fact that one must be willing to pay the 
price of using morally dubious means or at least dangerous ones — and 
facing the possibility or even the probability of evil ramifications. From 
no ethics in the world can it be concluded when and to what extent 
the ethically good purpose 'justifies' the ethically dangerous means and 

The decisive means for politics is violence. You may see the extent 
of the tension between means and ends, when viewed ethically, from the 
following: as is generally known, even during the war the revolutionary 
socialists (Zimmerwald faction) professed a principle that one might 
strikingly formulate: 'If we face the choice either of some more years 
of war and then revolution, or peace now and no revolution, we choose — 
some more years of war!' Upon the further question: 'What can this 
revolution bring about?' every scientifically trained socialist would have 
had the answer: One cannot speak of a transition to an economy that 
in our sense could be called socialist; a bourgeois economy will re-emerge, 
merely stripped of the feudal elements and the dynastic vestiges. For this 
very modest result, they are willing to face 'some more years of war.' One 
may well say that even with a very robust socialist conviction one might 
reject a purpose that demands such means. With Bolshevism and Spar- 


tacism, and, in general, with any kind of revolutionary socialism, it is pre- 
cisely the same thing. It is of course utterly ridiculous if the power poli- 
ticians of the old regime are morally denounced for their use of the 
same means, however justified the rejection of their aims may be. 

The ethic of ultimate ends apparently must go to pieces on the problem 
of the justification of means by ends. As a matter of fact, logically it has 
only the possibility of rejecting all action that employs morally dangerous 
means — in theory! In the world of realities, as a rule, we encounter the 
ever-renewed experience that the adherent of an ethic of ultimate ends 
suddenly turns into a chiliastic prophet. Those, for example, who have 
just preached 'love against violence' now call for the use of force for the 
last violent deed, which would then lead to a state of affairs in which all 
violence is annihilated. In the same manner, our officers told the soldiers 
before every offensive: 'This will be the last one; this one will bring 
victory and therewith peace.' The proponent of an ethic of absolute ends 
cannot stand up under the ethical irrationality of the world. He is a 
cosmic-ethical 'rationalist.' Those of you who know Dostoievski will re- 
member the scene of the 'Grand Inquisitor,' where the problem is poign- 
antly unfolded. If one makes any concessions at all to the principle 
that the end justifies the means, it is not possible to bring an ethic 
of ultimate ends and an ethic of responsibility under one roof or to 
decree ethically which end should justify which means. 

My colleague, Mr. F. W. Forster, whom personally I highly esteem 
for his undoubted sincerity, but whom I reject unreservedly as a politi- 
cian, beheves it is possible to get around this difficulty by the simple 
thesis: 'from good comes only good; but from evil only evil follows.' 
In that case this whole complex of questions would not exist. But it is 
rather astonishing that such a thesis could come to light two thousand 
five hundred years after the Upanishads. Not only the whole course of 
world history, but every frank examination of everyday experience 
points to the very opposite. The development of religions all over the 
world is determined by the fact that the opposite is true. The age-old 
problem of theodicy consists of the very question of how it is that a 
power which is said to be at once omnipotent and kind could have 
created such an irrational world of undeserved suffering, unpunished 
injustice, and hopeless stupidity. Either this power is not omnipotent or 
not kind, or, entirely different principles of compensation and reward 
govern our life — principles we may interpret metaphysically, or even 
principles that forever escape our comprehension. 


This problem — the experience of the irrationahty of the world — has 
been the driving force of all religious evolution. The Indian doctrine of 
karma, Persian dualism, the doctrine of original sin, predestination 
and the deiis ahsconditiis, all these have grown out of this experience. 
Also the early Christians knew full well the world is governed by 
demons and that he who lets himself in for politics, that is, for power and 
force as means, contracts with diabolical powers and for his action it is 
not true that good can follow only from good and evil only from evil, 
but that often the opposite is true. Anyone who fails to see this is, 
indeed, a political infant. 

We are placed into various life-spheres, each of which is governed 
by different laws. Religious ethics have settled with this fact in different 
ways. Hellenic polytheism made sacrifices to Aphrodite and Hera ahke, 
to Dionysus and to Apollo, and knew these gods were frequently in con- 
flict with one another. The Hindu order of life made each of the differ- 
ent occupations an object of a specific ethical code, a Dharma, and for- 
ever segregated one from the other as castes, thereby placing them into 
a fixed hierarchy of rank. For the man born into it, there was no escape 
from it, lest he be twice-born in another life. The occupations were thus 
placed at varying distances from the highest religious goods of salva- 
tion. In this way, the caste order allowed for the possibility of fashioning 
the Dharma of each single caste, from those of the ascetics and Brahmins 
to those of the rogues and harlots, in accordance with the immanent and 
autonomous laws of their respective occupations. War and politics were 
also included. You will find war integrated into the totality of life-spheres 
in the Bhagavad-Gita, in the conversation between Krishna and Arduna. 
'Do what must be done,' i.e. do that work which, according to the 
Dharma of the warrior caste and its rules, is obligatory and which, ac- 
cording to the purpose of the war, is objectively necessary. Hinduism be- 
lieves that such conduct does not damage religious salvation but, rather, 
promotes it. When he faced the hero's death, the Indian warrior was 
always sure of Indra's heaven, just as was the Teuton warrior of Val- 
halla. The Indian hero would have despised Nirvana just as much as the 
Teuton would have sneered at the Christian paradise with its angels' 
choirs. This specialization of ethics allowed for the Indian ethic's quite 
unbroken treatment of politics by following poHtics' own laws and even 
radically enhancing this royal art. 

A really radical 'Machiavellianism,' in the popular sense of this word, 
is classically represented in Indian literature, in the Kautaliya Arthasastra 


(long before Christ, allegedly dating from Chandragupta's time). In con- 
trast with this document Machiavelli's Principe is harmless. As is known 
in Catholic ethics — to which otherwise Professor Forster stands close — 
the consilia evangelica are a special ethic for those endowed with the 
charisma of a holy life. There stands the monk who must not shed 
blood or strive for gain, and beside him stand the pious knight and the 
burgher, who are allowed to do so, the one to shed blood, the other to 
pursue gain. The gradation of ethics and its organic integration into the 
doctrine of salvation is less consistent than in India. According to the 
presuppositions of Christian faith, this could and had to be the case. 
The wickedness of the world stemming from original sin allowed with 
relative ease the integration of violence into ethics as a disciplinary means 
against sin and against the heretics who endangered the soul. However, 
the demands of the Sermon on the Mount, an acosmic ethic of ulti- 
mate ends, implied a natural law of absolute imperatives based upon 
religion. These absolute imperatives retained their revolutionizing force 
and they came upon the scene with elemental vigor during almost all 
periods of social upheaval. They produced especially the radical pacifist 
sects, one of which in Pennsylvania experimented in establishing a polity 
that renounced violence towards the outside. This experiment took a 
tragic course, inasmuch as with the outbreak of the War of Independence 
the Quakers could not stand up arms-in-hand for their ideals, which 
were those of the war. 

Normally, Protestantism, however, absolutely legitimated the state as a 
divine institution and hence violence as a means. Protestantism, espe- 
cially, legitimated the authoritarian state. Luther relieved the individual 
of the ethical responsibility for war and transferred it to the authorities. 
To obey the authorities in matters other than those of faith could never 
constitute guilt. Calvinism in turn knew principled violence as a means 
of defending the faith; thus Calvinism knew the crusade, which was 
for Islam an element of life from the beginning. One sees that it is by 
no means a modern disbehef born from the hero worship of the Renais- 
sance which poses the problem of political ethics. All religions have 
wrestled with it, with highly differing success, and after what has been 
said it could not be otherwise. It is the specific means of legitimate 
violence as such in the hand of human associations which determines 
the peculiarity of all ethical problems of politics. 

Whosoever contracts with violent means for whatever ends — and every 
poUtician does — is exposed to its specific consequences. This holds espe- 


cially for the crusader, religious and revolutionary alike. Let us confi- 
dently take the present as an example. He who wants to establish abso- 
lute justice on earth by force requires a following, a human 'machine.' 
He must hold out the necessary internal and external premiums, heavenly 
or worldly reward, to this 'machine' or else the machine will not func- 
tion. Under the conditions of the modern class struggle, the internal 
premiums consist oi. the satisfying of hatred and the craving for re- 
venge; above all, resentment and the need for pseudo-ethical self-right- 
eousness: the opponents must be slandered and accused of heresy. The 
external rewards are adventure, victory, booty, power, and spoils. The 
leader and his success are completely dependent upon the functioning of 
his machine and hence not on his own motives. Therefore he also de- 
pends upon whether or not the premiums can be permanently granted 
to the following, that is, to the Red Guard, the informers, the agitators, 
whom he needs. What he actually attains under the conditions of his 
work is therefore not in his hand, but is prescribed to him by the foUow- 
ing's motives, which, if viewed ethically, are predominantly base. The 
following can be harnessed only so long as an honest belief in his person 
and his cause inspires at least part of the following, probably never on 
earth even the majority. This belief, even when subjectively sincere, is in 
a very great number of cases really no more than an ethical 'legitimation' 
of cravings for revenge, power, booty, and spoils. We shall not be de- 
ceived about this by verbiage; the materialist interpretation of history is 
no cab to be taken at will; it does not stop short of the promoters of 
revolutions. Emotional revolutionism is followed by the traditionalist 
routine of everyday life; the crusading leader and the faith itself fade 
away, or, what is even more effective, the faith becomes part of the con- 
ventional phraseology of political Philistines and banausic technicians. 
This development is especially rapid with struggles of faith because they 
are usually led or inspired by genuine leaders, that is, prophets of revolu- 
tion. For here, as with every leader's machine, one of the conditions for 
success is the depersonalization and routinization, in short, the psychic 
proletarianization, in the interests of discipline. After coming to power the 
following of a crusader usually degenerates very easily into a quite com- 
mon stratum of spoilsmen. 

Whoever wants to engage in politics at all, and especially in politics 
as a vocation, has to realize these ethical paradoxes. He must know that 
he is responsible for what may become of himself under the impact of 
these paradoxes. I repeat, he lets himself in for the diabolic forces lurking 


in all violence. The great virtuosi of acosmic love of humanity and good- 
ness, whether stemming from Nazareth or Assisi or from Indian royal 
castles, have not operated with the political means of violence. Their 
kingdom was 'not of this world' and yet they worked and still work 
in this world. The figures of Platon Karatajev and the saints of Dostoiev- 
ski still remain their most adequate reconstructions. He who seeks 
the salvation of the soul, of his own and of others, should not seek 
it along the avenue of politics, for the quite different tasks of politics 
can only be solved by violence. The genius or demon of politics lives in 
an inner tension with the god of love, as well as with the Christian God 
as expressed by the church. This tension can at any time lead to an 
irreconcilable conflict. Men knew this even in the times of church rule. 
Time and again the papal interdict was placed upon Florence and at 
the time it meant a far more robust power for men and their salvation 
of soul than (to speak with Fichte) the 'cool approbation' of the Kantian 
ethical judgment. The burghers, however, fought the church-state. And 
it is with reference to such situations that Machiavelli in a beautiful 
passage, if I am not mistaken, of the History of Florence, has one of his 
heroes praise those citizens who deemed the greatness of their native 
city higher than the salvation of their souls. 

If one says 'the future of socialism' or 'international peace,' instead of 
native city or 'fatherland' (which at present may be a dubious value 
to some), then you face the problem as it stands now. Everything that 
is striven for through political action operating with violent means and 
following an ethic of responsibility endangers the 'salvation of the soul.' 
If, however, one chases after the ultimate good in a war of beliefs, fol- 
lowing a pure ethic of absolute ends, then the goals may be damaged 
and discredited for generations, because responsibility for consequences 
is lacking, and two diabolic forces which enter the play remain un- 
known to the actor. These are inexorable and produce consequences for 
his action and even for his inner self, to which he must helplessly sub- 
mit, unless he perceives them. The sentence: 'The devil is old; grow old 
to understand him!' does not refer to age in terms of chronological years. 
I have never permitted myself to lose out in a discussion through a 
reference to a date registered on a birth certificate; but the mere fact 
that someone is twenty years of age and that I am over fifty is no 
cause for me to think that this alone is an achievement before which I am 
overawed. Age is not decisive; what is decisive is th'e trained relentless- 


ness in viewing the realities of life, and the ability to face such realities 
and to measure up to them inwardly. 

Surely, politics is made with the head, but it is certainly not made 
with the head alone. In this the proponents of an ethic of ultimate ends 
are right. One cannot prescribe to anyone whether he should follow an 
ethic of absolute ends or an ethic of responsibility, or when the one 
and when the other. One can say only this much: If in these times, 
which, in your opinion, are not times of 'sterile' excitation — excitation is 
not, after all, genuine passion — if now suddenly the W eltanschauungs- 
politicians crop up en masse and pass the watchword, 'The world is 
stupid and base, not I,' 'The responsibility for the consequences does 
not fall upon me but upon the others whom I serve and whose stupidity 
or baseness I shall eradicate,' then I declare frankly that I would first 
inquire into the degree of inner poise backing this ethic of ultimate 
ends. I am under the impression that in nine out of ten cases I deal with 
windbags who do not fully realize what they take upon themselves but 
who intoxicate themselves with romantic sensations. From a human 
point of view this is not very interesting to me, nor does it move me 
profoundly. However, it is immensely moving when a mature man — 
no matter whether old or young in years — is aware of a responsibility 
for the consequences of his conduct and really feels such responsibility 
with heart and soul. He then acts by following an ethic of responsibility 
and somewhere he reaches the point where he says: 'Here I stand; I can 
do no other.' That is something genuinely human and moving. And 
every one of us who is not spiritually dead must realize the possibility of 
finding himself at some time in that position. In so far as this is true, 
an ethic of ultimate ends and an ethic of responsibility are not absolute 
contrasts but rather supplements, which only in unison constitute a 
genuine man — a man who can have the 'calling for politics.' 

Now then, ladies and gentlemen, let us debate this matter once 
more ten years from now. Unfortunately, for a whole series of reasons, 
I fear that by then the period of reaction will have long since broken 
over us. It is very probable that little of what many of you, and (I 
candidly confess) I too, have wished and hoped for will be fulfilled; 
little — perhaps not exactly nothing, but what to us at least seems little. 
This will not crush me, but surely it is an inner burden to realize it. 
Then, I wish I could see what has become of those of you who now feel 
yourselves to be genuinely 'principled' politicians and who share in the 


intoxication signified by tiiis revolution. It would be nice if matters 
turned out in such a way that Shakespeare's Sonnet 102 should hold 

Our love was new, and then but in the spring, 

When I was wont to greet it with my lays; 

As Philomel in summer's front doth sing, 

And stops her pipe in growth of riper days. 

But such is not the case. Not summer's bloom lies ahead of us, but 
rather a polar night of icy darkness and hardness, no matter which 
group may triumph externally now. Where there is nothing, not only the 
Kaiser but also the proletarian has lost his rights. When this night shall 
have slowly receded, who of those for whom spring apparently has 
bloomed so luxuriously will be alive? And what will have become of 
all of you by then? Will you be bitter or banausic? Will you simply and 
dully accept world and occupation? Or will the third and by no means 
the least frequent possibility be your lot: mystic flight from reality for 
those who are gifted for it, or — as is both frequent and unpleasant — for 
those who belabor themselves to follow this fashion? In every one of 
such cases, I shall draw the conclusion that they have not measured up to 
their own doings. They have not measured up to the world as it really 
is in its everyday routine. Objectively and actually, they have not ex- 
perienced the vocation for politics in its deepest meaning, which they 
thought they had. They would have done better in simply cultivating 
plain brotherliness in personal relations. And for the rest — they should 
have gone soberly about their daily work. 

Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both pas- 
sion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth 
— that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again 
he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a 
leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense 
of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must 
arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even 
the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men 
will not be able to attain even that which is possible today. Only he has 

I the calling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the 
world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants 
to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say 'In spite of all!' has 
the calling for politics. 

V . ocience as a V ocation 

You wish me to speak about 'Science as a Vocation.' Now, we political 
economists have a pedantic custom, which I should like to follow, of 
always beginning with the external conditions. In this case, we begin 
with the question: What are the conditions of science as a vocation in 
the material sense of the term? Today this question means, practically 
and essentially: What are the prospects of a graduate student who is 
resolved to dedicate himself professionally to science in university life.? 
In order to understand the peculiarity of German conditions it is ex- 
pedient to proceed by comparison and to realize the conditions abroad. 
In this respect, the United States stands in the sharpest contrast with 
Germany, so we shall focus upon that country. 

Everybody knows that in Germany the career of the young man who 
is dedicated to science normally begins with the position of Privatdozent. 
After having conversed with and received the consent of the re- 
spective specialists, he takes up residence on the basis of a book and, 
usually, a rather formal examination before the faculty of the university. 
Then he gives a course of lectures without receiving any salary other 
than the lecture fees of his students. It is up to him to determine, within 
his venia legendi, the topics upon which he lectures. 

In the United States the academic career usually begins in quite a 
different manner, namely, by employment as an 'assistant.' This is 
similar to the great institutes of the natural science and medical faculties 
in Germany, where usually only a fraction of the assistants try to habili- 
tate themselves as Privatdozenten and often only later in their career. 

Practically, this contrast means that the career of the academic man in 
Germany is generally based upon plutocratic prerequisites. For it is ex- 
tremely hazardous for a young scholar without funds to expose himself 

'Wissenschaft als Beruf,' Gesammelte Aufsaetze zitr Wissenschaftslelire (Tubingen, 1922), 
pp. 524-55. Originally a speech at Munich University, 1918, published in 1919 by Duncker 
& Humblodt, Munich. 



to the conditions of the academic career. He must be able to endure this 
condition for at least a number of years without knowing whether he 
will have the opportunity to move into a position which pays well 
enough for maintenance. 

In the United States, where the bureaucratic system exists, the young 
academic man is paid from the very beginning. To be sure, his salary 
is modest; usually it is hardly as much as the wages of a semi-skilled 
laborer. Yet he begins with a seemingly secure position, for he draws 
a fixed salary. As a rule, however, notice may be given to him just as 
with German assistants, and frequently he definitely has to face this 
should he not come up to expectations. 

These expectations are such that the young academic in America must 
draw large crowds of students. This cannot happen to a German decent; 
once one has him, one cannot get rid of him. To be sure, he cannot raise 
any 'claims.' But he has the understandable notion that after years of 
work he has a sort of moral right to expect some consideration. He also 
expects — and this is often quite important — that one have some regard 
for him when the question of the possible habilitation of other Privat- 
dozenten comes up. 

Whether, in principle, one should habilitate every scholar who is quali- 
fied or whether one should consider enrollments, and hence give the 
existing staff a monopoly to teach — that is an awkward dilemma. It is asso- 
ciated with the dual aspect of the academic profession, which we shall 
discuss presently. In general, one decides in favor of the second alter- 
native. But this increases the danger that the respective full professor, 
however conscientious he is, will prefer his own disciples. If I may 
speak of my personal attitude, I must say I have followed the principle 
that a scholar promoted by me must legitimize and habilitate himself 
with somebody else at another university. But the result has been that 
one of my best disciples has been turned down at another university 
because nobody there believed this to be the reason. 

A further difference between Germany and the United States is that 
in Germany the Privatdozent generally teaches fewer courses than he 
wishes. According to his formal right, he can give any course in his 
field. But to do so would be considered an improper lack of considera- 
tion for the older docents. As a rule, the full professor gives the 'big' 
courses and the docent confines himself to secondary ones. The ad- 
vantage of these arrangements is that during his youth the academic 


man is free to do scientific work, although this restriction of the oppor- 
tunity to teach is somewhat involuntary. 

In America, the arrangement is different in principle. Precisely during 
the early years of his career the assistant is absolutely overburdened just 
because he is paid. In a department of German, for instance, the full 
professor will give a three-hour course on Goethe and that is enough, 
whereas the young assistant is happy if, besides the drill in the German 
language, his twelve weekly teaching hours include assignments of, say, 
Uhland. The officials prescribe the curriculum, and in this the assistant 
is just as dependent as the institute assistant in Germany. 

Of late we can observe distinctly that the German universities in the 
broad fields of science develop in the direction of the American system. 
The large institutes of medicine or natural science are 'state capitalist' 
)nsesPwhich cannot be managed without very considerabje funds. 
Here we encounter the sarrie conHition that is found wherever capitalist 
enterprise comes into operation: the 'separation of the worker from his 
means of production.' 'ihe worker, that is, the assistant, is dependent 
upon the implements that the state puts'at Iiis disposal; hence he is just 
as dependent upon the head of the institute as is the employee in a 
factory upon the management. For, subjectively and in good faith, the 
director believes that this institute is 'his,' and he manages its affairs. 
Thus the assistant's position is often as precarious as is that of any 
'quasi-proletarian' existence and just as precarious as the position of the 
assistant in the American university. 

In very important respects German university life is being American- 
ized, as is German life in general. This development, I am convinced, 
will engulf those disciplines in which the craftsman personally owns the 
tools, essentially the library, as is still the case to a large extent in my 
own field. This development corresponds entirely to what happened to 
the artisan of the past and it is now fully under way. 

As with all capitalist and at the same time bureaucratized enterprises, 
there are indubitable advantages in all this. But the 'spirit' that rules in 
these affairs is different from the historical atmosphere of the German 
university. An extraordinarily wide gulf, externally and internally, exists 
between the chief of these large, capitalist, university enterprises and 
the usual full j)rofessor of the old style. This contrast also holds for the 
inner attitude, a matter that I shall not go into here. Inwardly as well 
as externally, the old university constitution has become fictitious. What 
has remained and what has been essentially increased is a factor peculiar 


to the university career: the question whether or not such a Privatdozent, 
and still more an assistant, will ever succeed in moving into the position 
of a full professor or even become the head of an institute. That is 
simply a hazard. Certainly, chance does not rule alone, but it rules to an 
unusually high degree. I know of hardly any career on earth where 
chance plays such a role. I may say so all the more since I personally 
owe it to some mere accidents that during my very early years I was ap- 
pointed to a full professorship in a discipline in which men of my genera- 
tion undoubtedly had achieved more tha^ I had. And, indeed, I fancy, 
on the basis of this experience, that I have a sharp eye for the undeserved 
fate of the many whom accident has cast in the opposite direction and 
who within this selective apparatus in spite of all their ability do not 
attain the positions that are due them. 

The fact that hazard rather than ability plays so large a role is not 
alone or even predominantly owing to the 'human, all too human' 
factors, which naturally occur in the process of academic selection as in 
any other selection. It would be unfair to hold the personal inferiority of 
faculty members or educational ministries responsible for the fact that 
so many mediocrities undoubtedly play an eminent role at the universities. 
The predominance of mediocrity is rather due to the laws of human 
co-operation, especially of the co-operation of several bodies, and, in this 
case, co-operation of the faculties who recommend and of the ministries 
of education. 

A counterpart are the events at the papal elections, which can be 
traced over many centuries and which are the most important control- 
lable examples of a selection of the same nature as the academic selection. 
The cardinal who is said to be the 'favorite' only rarely has a chance to 
win out. The rule is rather that the Number Two cardinal or the 
Number Three wins out. The same holds for the President of the 
United States. Only exceptionally does the first-rate and most prominent 
man get the nomination of the convention. Mostly the Number Two and 
often the Number Three men are nominated and later run for elecdon. 
The Americans have already formed technical sociological terms for 
these categories, and it would be quite interesting to enquire into the 
laws of selection by a collective will by studying these examples, but we 
shall not do so here. Yet these laws also hold for the collegiate bodies 
of German universities, and one must not be surprised at the frequent 
mistakes that are made, but rather at the number of correct appoint- 
ments, the proportion of which, in spite of all, is very considerable. Only 


where parliaments, as in some countries, or monarchs, as in Germany 
thus far (both work out in the same way), or revolutionary power-hold- 
ers, as in Germany now, intervene for political reasons in academic selec- 
tions, can one be certain that convenient mediocrities or strainers will 
have the opportunities all to themselves. 

No university teacher likes to be reminded of discussions of appoint- 
ments, for they are seldom agreeable. And yet I may say that in the 
numerous cases known to me there was, without exception, the good 
will to allow purely objective reasons to be decisive. 

One must be clear about another thing: that the decision over academic 
fates is so largely a 'hazard' is not merely because of the insufficiency 
of the selection by the collective formation of will. Every young man 
who feels called to scholarship has to realize clearly that the task before 
him has a double aspect. He must qualify not only as a scholar but 
also as a teacher. And the two do not at all coincide. One can be a pre- 
eminent scholar and at the same time an abominably poor teacher. May 
I remind you of the teaching of men like Helmholtz or Ranke; and 
they are not by any chance rare exceptions. 

Now, matters are such that German universities, especially the small 
universities, are engaged in a most ridiculous competition for enroll- 
ments. The landlords of rooming houses in university cities celebrate 
the advent of the thousandth student by a festival, and they would love 
to celebrate Number Two Thousand by a torchhght procession. The 
interest in fees^and one should openly admit it — is affected by appoint- 
ments in the neighboring fields that 'draw crowds.' And quite apart 
from this, the number of students enrolled is a test of qualification, which 
may be grasped in terms of numbers, whereas the qualification for 
scholarship is imponderable and, precisely with audacious innovators, 
often debatable — that is only natural. Almost everybody thus is affected 
by the suggestion of the immeasurable blessing and value of large en- , 
rollments. To say of a docent that he is a poor teacher is usually to 
pronounce an academic sentence of death, even if he is the foremost 
scholar in the world. And the question whether he is a good or a poor 
teacher is answered by the enrollments with which the students conde- •■- 
scendingly honor him. V 

It is a fact that whether or not the students flock to a teacher is de- 
termined in large measure, larger than one would believe possible, by 
purely external things: temperament and even the inflection of his 
voice. After rather extensive experience and sober reflection, I have a 


deep distrust of courses that draw crowds, however unavoidable they 
may be. Democracy should be used only where it is in place. S cientific 
training, as we are held to practice it in accordance with the tradition of 
German universities, is the affair of an intellectual aristocracy, and we 
should not hide this from ourselves. To be sure, it is true that to present 
scientific problems in such a manner that an untutored but receptive 
mind can understand them and — what for us is alone decisive — can come 
to think about them independently is perhaps the most difficult peda- 
gogical task of all. But whether this task is or is not realized is not de- 
cided by enrollment figures. And — to return to our theme — this very art 
is a personal gift and by no means coincides with the scientific qualifica- 
tions of the scholar. 

In contrast to France, Germany has no corporate body of 'immortals' 
in science. According to German tradition, the universities shall do justice 
to the demands both of research and of instruction. Whether the abilities 
for both are found together in a man is a matter of absolute chance. 
Hence academic life is a mad hazard. If the young scholar asks for my 
advice with regard to habihtation, the responsibiHty of encouraging him 
can hardly be borne. If he is a Jew, of course one says lasciate ogni 
speranza. But o'le must ask every other man: Do you in all conscience 
believe that ^ou can stand seeing mediocrity after mediocrity, year after 
year, climb beyond you, without becoming embittered and without com- 
ing to grief? Naturally, one always receives the answer: 'Of course, I live 
only for my "calling." ' Yet, I have found that only a few men could 
endure this situation without coming to grief. 

This much I deem necessary to say about the external conditions of the 
academic man's vocation. But I believe that actually you wish to~hear \^,~^ 
of something else, namely, of the inward calling for science. In our^tim^ 
the internal situation, in contrast to the org aniz ation of_sciejiC£_as_a 
vocation, is first of all conditioned by the facts that science has entered 
a phase of specialization previously unknown and that this wfH-fDrever 
remain the case. Not only externally, but inwardly, matters stand at a 
point where the individual can acquire the sure consciousness of achiev- 
ing something truly perfect in the field of science only in case he is a 
strict specialist. 

All work that overlaps neighboring fields, such as we occasionally 
undertake and which the sociologists must necessarily undertake again 
and again, is burdened with the resigned realization that at best one 
provides the specialist with useful questions upon which he would not 


SO easily hit from his own speciaHzed point of view. One's own work 
must inevitably remain highly imperfect. Only by strict specialization 
can the scientific worker become fully conscious, for once and perhaps 
never again in his lifetime, that he has achieved something that will en- 
dure. A really definitive and good accomplishment is today always a. 
specialized acco mplishmen t. And whoever lacks the capacity to put on 
blinders, so to speak, and to come up to the idea that the fate of his) 
"soul depends upon whether or not he makes the correct conjecture"'at 
this passage of this manuscript may as well stay away from science. He 
will never have what one may call the 'personal experience' of science. 
Without this strange intoxicatio)i, ridiculed by every outsider; without 
this passion, this 'thousands of years must pass before you enter into life 
and thousands more wait in silence' — according to whether or not you 
succeed in making this conjecture; without this, you have no calling for 
science and you should do something else. For nothing is worthy of man 
as man unless he can pursue it with passionate devotion. 

Yet it is a fact that no amount of such enthusiasm, however sincere 
and profound it may be, can compel a problem to yield scientific results. 
Certainly enthusiasm is a prerequisite of the 'inspiration' which is de- 
cisive. Nowadays in circles of youth there is a widespread notion that 
science has become a pro blem in calculation , fabricated in laboratories or 
statistical filing sy stems just as 'in a fac tory,' a calculation involving 
only the cool ilntellect and not one's 'heart and soul.' First of all one must 
say that such comments lack all clarity about what goes on in a factory 
or in a laboratory. In both some idea has to occur to someone's mind , 
and it has to be a corr ect idea, if one is to accompl ish anything worth- 
while. An3 such Intuition cannot be forced. It has nothing to do with 
any cold calculation. Certainly calculation is also an indispensable prereq- 
uisite. No sociologist, for instance, should think himself too good, even 
in his old age, to make tens of thousands of quite trivial computations 
in his head and perhaps for months at a time. One cannot with impunity 
try to transfer this task entirely to mechanical assistants if one wishes 
to figure something, even though the final result is often small indeed. 
But if no 'idea' Occurs to his mind about the direction of his computations 
and, during his computations, about the bearing of the emergent single 
results, then even this small result will not be yielded. 

Normally such an 'idea' is prepared only on the soil of very hard 
work, but certainly this is not always the case. Scientifically, a dilet- 
tante's idea may have the very same or even a greater bearing for 


science than that o£ a specialist. Many of our very best hypotheses and 
insights are due precisely to dilettantes. The dilettante differs from the 
expert, as Helmholtz has said of Robert Mayer, only in that he lacks a 
firm and reliable work procedure. Consequently he is usually not in the 
position to control, to estimate, or to exploit the idea in its bearings. The 
idea is not a substitute for work; and work, in turn, cannot substitute 
for or compel an idea, just as little as enthusiasm can. Both, enthusiasm 
and work, and above all both of them jointly, can entice the idea. 

Ideas occur to us when they please, not when it pleases us. The best 
ideas do indeed occur to one's mind in the way in which Ihering de- 
scribes it: when smoking a cigar on the sofa; or as Helmholtz states of 
himself with scientific exactitude: when taking a walk on a slowly 
ascending street; or in a similar way. In any case, ideas come when we 
do not expect them, and not when we are brooding and searching at our 
desks. Yet ideas would certainly not come to mind had we not brooded at 
our desks and searched for answers with passionate devotion. 

However this may be, the scientjfic^ worker has_to_jtak e into J iis 
bargain the risk that enters into all scientific _work : Does an 'idea' 
occur or does it not ? He may be an excellent worker and yet never have 
had any valuable idea of his own. It is a grave error to believe that this 
is so only in science, and that things for instance in a business office are 
different from a laboratory. A merchant or a big industrialist without 
'business imagination/ that is, without ideas or ideal intuitions, will for 
all his life remain a man who would better have remained a clerk or a 
technical official. He will never be truly creative in organization. Inspira- 
tion in the field of science by no means plays any greater role, as academic 
conceit fancies, than it does in the field of mastering problems of practi- 
cal life by a modern entrepreneur. On the other hand, and this also 
is often misconstrued, in spiration playj no less a role in scie nce than it 
does in the realm of art. It is a childish notion to think th at a mathe- 
matician attains any scientifically valuable results by sitting at his desk 
with a ruler, calculating machines or other mechanical means. The 
mathematkal imagination of a Weierstrass is naturally quite differently 
oriented in meaning and result than is the imagination of an artist, and 
differs basically in quality. But the psychological processes do not differ. 
Both are frenzy (in the sense of Plato's 'mania') and 'inspiration.' 

Now, whether we have scientific inspiration depends upon destinies 
that are hidden from us, and besides upon 'gifts.' Last but not least, 
because of this indubitable truth, a very understandable attitude has 


become popular, especially among youth, and has put them in the serv- 
ice of idols whose cult today occupies a broad place on all street corners 
and in all periodicals. Tliese^dols^rejpersonality^ 
rience.' Both are intimately connected, the notion prevails that the 
latter constitutes the former and belongs to it. People belabor themselves 
in trying to 'experience' life — for that befits a personality, conscious of 
its rank and station. And if we do not succeed in 'experiencing' life, we 
must at least pretend to have this gift of grace. Formerly we called this 
'experience,' in plain German, 'sensation'; and I believe that we then 
had a more adequate idea of what personality is and what it signifies. 

Ladies and gentlemen. In the field of science only he who is devoted 
solely to the work at_hand has 'personality.' And this holds not only 
for the field of science; we know of no great artist who has ever done 
anything but serve his work and only his work. As far as his art is 
concerned, even with a personality of Goethe's rank, it has been detri- 
mental to take the liberty of trying to make his 'life' into a work of art. 
And even if one doubts this, one has to be a Goethe in order to dare 
permit oneself such liberty. Everybody will admit at least this much: 
that even with a man like Goethe, who appears once in a thousand years, 
this liberty did not go unpaid for. In politics matters are not different, 
but we shall not discuss that today. In the field of science, however, the 
man who makes himself the impresario of the subject to which he 
should be devoted, and steps upon the stage and seeks to legitimate him- 
self through 'experience,' asking: How can I prove that I am something . 
other than a mere 'specialist' and how can I manage to say something o/' 
in form or in content that nobody else has ever said? — such a man is no 
'personality.' Today such conduct is a crowd phenomenon, and it al- 
ways makes a petty impression and debases the one who is thus con- 
cerned. Instead of this, a n inner devotion to the ta sk, and that alone, 
should lift the scient ist to the height and dignity of th e subject he pre- 
tends to serve. And i n_ this it is not different with the artist. . 

In contrast with these preconditions which scientific work shares with '■~-^ ■ 
art, science has a fate that profoundly distinguishes" it from artistic work. 
Scientific work is chain ed to the course ot progres s; whereas in the realm 
of art there is no progress in the same sense. It is not true that the 
work of art of a period that has worked out new technical means, or, 
for instance, the laws of perspective, stands therefore artistically higher 
than a work of art devoid of all knowledge of those means and laws — 
if its form does justice to the material, that is, if its object has been 


chosen and formed so that it could be artistically mastered without 
applying those conditions and means. A work of art which is genuine 
'fulfilment' is never surpassed; it will never be antiquated. Individuals 
may differ in appreciating the personal significance of works of art, but 
no one will ever be able to say of such a work that it is 'outstripped by 
another work which is also 'fulfilment.' 

In science, each of us knows that vvhat he has accomplished ^will b e 
antiquated in ten, twenty, fifty years. That is the fate to which science 
is subjected; it is the very jneaning of scientific work, to which it is de- 
voted in a quite specific sense, as compared with other spheres of cul- 
ture for which in general the same holds. Every scientific 'fulfilment' 
raises new 'questions'; it as{s to be 'surpassed' and^outdated Whoever 
wishes to serve science has to resign himself to this fact. Scientific works 
certainly can last as 'gratifications' because of their artistic quality, or they 
may remain important as a means of training. Yet they will be surpassed 
scientifically — let that be repeated — for it is our common fate and, more, 
our common goal. We cannot work without hoping that others will ad- 
vance further than we have. In principle, this progress goes on ad 
infinitum. And with this we come to inquire into the meaning o f 
science. For, after allTlt^Ts noF self-evident that something subordinate 
to such a law is sensible and meaningful in itself. Why does one engag e 
in doing something that in reality never comes, and never can come, 
to an end? 
\lp One does it, first, for purely practical, in the broader sense of the 
word, for technical, purposes: in order to be able to orient our practical 
activities to the expectations that scientific experience places at our dis- 
posal. Good. Yet this has meaning only to practitioners. Whatjsjhe^atti- 
tude of the academic man towaj;ds his vocation — that is, if he is at all in 
quest of such a personal attitude? He maintains that he engages in 
'science for science's sake' and not merely because others, by exploiting 
science, bring about commercial or technical success and can better feed, 
dress, illuminate, and govern. But what does he who allows himself to be 
integrated into this specialized organization, running on ad infinitum, 
hope to accomplish that is significant in these productions that are al- 
ways destined to be outdated? This question requires a few general 

Scientific progress is a fraction, the most important fractio n, of the 
process of intel^tualization which we haveT)een undergoing for thou- 
sands of years and which nowadays is usually judged in such an ex- 


tremely negative way. Let us first clarify what this intellectuaUst ration- 
ahzation, created by science and by scientifically oriented technology, 
means practically. 

Does it mean that we, today, for instance, everyone sitting in this hall, 
have a ^reater Jyig wle^ge of the con ditions of life under which we exist 
than h as an American Indian or a Hottentot? Hardly. Unless he is a 
physicist, one who rides on the streetcar has no idea how the car happened 
to get into motion. And he does not need to know. He is satisfied that he 
may 'count' on the behavior of the streetcar, and he orients his conduct 
according to this expectation; but he knows nothing about what it takes 
to produce such a car so that it can move. The savage knows incom- 
parably more about his tools. When we spend money today I Let that 
even if there are colleagues of political economy here in the hall, almost 
every one of them will hold a different answer in readiness to the ques- 
tion: How does it happen that one can buy something for money — some- 
times more and sometimes less? The savage knows what he does in order 
to get his daily food and which institutions serve him in this pursuit. 
The increasing^ intellectualization an d rationalization do 7iot, therefore, j. 
/^ indicate an increased and general knowledge of the cond itions under 'V^ 
which one lives. 

It means somethi ng else, namely, the kn owledge or belief that if one | 
but wished one could learn it at any time. Hence, it means that prin- ' 
cipally there are no mysterious incalculable forces that come into play, : 
but rather that one can, in principle, master all things by calculation, i 
This means that the world is disenchanted. One need no longer have 
recourse to magical means in order to master or implore the spirits, as did 
the savage, for whom such mysterious powers existed. Technical means 
and calculations perform the service. This above all is what intellectuali- L, 
zation means. 

Now, this process of disenchantment, which has continued to exist in 
Occidental culture for millennia, and, in general, this 'progress,' to which 
science belongs as a link and motive force, do they have any meanings 
that go beyond the purely practical and technical? You will find this 
question raised in the most principled form in the works of Leo Tolstoi. 
He came to raise the question in a peculiar way. All his broodings in- 
creasingly revolved around the problem of whether or not death is a 
meaningful phenomenon. And his answer was: for civilized man death 
has no meaning. It has none because the individual Hfe of civilized man, 
placed into an infinite 'progress,' according to its own imminent mean- 



ing should never come to an end; for there is always a further step ahead 
of one who stands in the march of progress. And no man who comes 
to die stands upon the peak which lies in infinity. Abraham, or some 
peasant of the past, died 'old and satiated with life' because he stood 
in the organic cycle of life; because his life, in terms of its meaning and 
on the eve of his days, had given to him what life had to offer; because 
for him there remained no puzzles he might wish to solve; and there- 
fore he could have had 'enough' of life. Whereas civilized man, placed 
in the midst of the continuous enrichment of culture by ideas, knowl- 
edge, and problems, may become 'tired of life' but not 'satiated with life.' 
He catches only the most minute part of what the life of the spirit brings 
forth ever anew, and what he seizes is always something provisional 
and not definitive, and therefore death for him is a meaningless occur- 
rence. And because death is meaningless, civilized life as such is mean- 
ingless; by its very 'progressiveness' it gives death the imprint of mean- 
inglessness. Throughout his late novels one meets with this thought as 
the keynote of the Tolstoyan art. 

What stand should one take? Has 'progress' as s uch a reco gnizable 
meaning that goes beyond" tEF technical, so that tO-serve i t is a meaning - 
ful vocation? The question must be raised. But this is no longer merely 
the question of man's calUng for science, hence, the problem of what 
science as a vocation means to its devoted disciples. To raise this question 
is to ask for the vocation of science within the totaj life q£. humanity. 
What is the value of science? 

Here the contrast between the past and the present is tremendous. 
You will recall the wonderful image at the beginning of the seventh 
book of Plato's Republic: those enchained cavemen whose faces are 
turned toward the stone wall before them. Behind them lies the source 
of the light which they cannot see. They are concerned only with the 
shadowy images that this light throws upon the wall, and they seek 
to fathom their interrelations. Finally one of them succeeds in shattering 
his fetters, turns around, and sees the sun. Blinded, he gropes about and 
stammers of what he saw. The others say he is raving. But gradually he 
learns to behold the light, and then his task is to descend to the cavemen 
and to lead them to the light. He is the philosopher; the sun, however, 
is the truth of science, which alone seizes not upon iHusions and shadows 
but upon the true being. 

Well, who today views science in such a manner? Today youth 
feels rather the reverse: the intellectual constructions of science consti- 


tute an unreal realm of artificial abstractions, which with their bony 
hands seek to grasp the blood-and-the-sap of true life without ever catch- 
ing up with it. But here in life, in what for Plato was the play of 
shadows on the walls of the cave, genuine reality is pulsating; and the 
rest are derivatives of life, lifeless ghosts, and nothing else. How did this 
change come about? 

Plato's passionate enthusiasm in The Republic must, in the last analy- 
sis, be explained by the fact that for the first time the concept, one of the 
great tools of all scientific knowledge, had been consciously discovered. 
Socrates had discovered it in its bearing. He was not the only man 
in the world to discover it. In India one finds the beginnings of a logic 
that is quite similar to that of Aristotle's. But nowhere else do we find 
this realization of the significance of the concep t. In Greece, for the first 
time, appeared a handy means by which one could put the logical 
screws upon somebody so that he could not come out without admitting 
either that he knew nothing or that this and nothing else was truth, the 
eternal truth that never would vanish as the doings of the blind men 
vanish. That was the tremendous experience which dawned upon the 
disciples of Socrates. And from this it seemed to follow that if one only 
found the right concept of the beautiful, the goo'd, or, foFlnstance, of 
bravery, o f~tKe soul — or wh atever — that then one could also grasp its 
true being. Andjhis, j n turn, seenie d_to open the way for knowing and 
for teaching: how_to act rightly in life an d, above all, how to act as a 
citizen of the state; for this question was everything to the Hellenic man, 
whose thinking was political throu ghou t. And for these reasons one 
engaged in science. 

The second great tool o f scientific work, t he rational experiment, made 
its appearance at the side of this discovery of the Hellenic spirit during 
the Renaissance period. The experiment is a means of reliably controlling 
experience. With out it, prese nt-day empirical science would be impos- 
sible. There were experiments earlier; for instance, in India physiological 
experiments were made in the service of ascetic yoga technique; in 
Hellenic antiquity, mathematical experiments were made for purposes of 
war technology; and in the Middle Ages, for purposes of mining. But 
to raise t he experiment to a p rinciple of research was the achievement 
o£_the_JE£iiaissance. They were the great innovators in art, who were 
the pioneers of experiment. Leonardo and his like and, above all, the 
sixteenth-century experimenters in music with their experimental pianos 
were characteristic. From these circles the experiment entered science, 


especially through Galileo, and it entered theory through Bacon; and 
then it was taken over by the various exact disciplines of the continental 
universities, first of all those of Italy and then those of the Netherlands. 

What did science mean to these men who stood at the threshold 
of modern times? To artistic experimenters of the type of Leonardo 
and the musical innovators, science meant the path to ^ue art, a nd 
that meant for them the path to true nature. Art was to be raised to the 
rank of a science, and this meant at the same time and above all to raise 
the artist to the rank of the doctor, socially and with reference to~tKe 
meaning of his life. This is the ambition on which, for instance, Leo- 
nardo's sketch book was based. And today ? 'Science as the way to nature' 
would sound like blasphemy to youth. Today, youth proclaims the oppo- 
site: redemption from the intellectualism of science in order to return 
to one's own nature and therewith to nature in general. Science as a way 
to art? Here no criticism is even needed. 

But during the period of the rise of the exact .sciences one^ejcpected 
a great deal more. If you recall Swammerdam's statement, 'Here I bring 
you the proof of God's providence in the anatomy of a louse,' you will 
see what the scientific wo rker, influenced (indirectly) by^JProtestantism 
and Puritanism, conceived to be his task: to show the path to^God. 
People no longer found this path among the philosophers, with their 
concepts and deductions. All pietist theology of the time, above all 
Spener, knew that God was not to be found along the road by which the 
Middle Ages had sought him. God is hidden, His ways are not our 
ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. In the exact sciences, however, 
where one could physically grasp His works, one hoped to come upon 
the traces of what He planned for the world. And today? Who-^aside 
from certain big children who are indeed found in the natural sciences — 
still believes that the findings of astronomy, biology, physics, or chemis- 
try could teach us anything about the meaning of the world? If there is 
any such 'meaning,' along what road could one come upon its tracks? 
If these natural sciences lead to anything in this way, they are apt to 
make the belief that there is such a thing as the 'meaning' of the uni- 
verse die out at its very roots. 

And finally, science as a way 'to God'? Science, this specifically irreli- 
gious power? That science today is irreligious no one will doubt in his 
innermost being, even if he will not admit it to himself. Redemption 
from the rationalism and intellectualism of science is the fundamental 
presupposition of living in union with the divine. This, or something 


similar in meaning, is one of the fundamental watchwords one hears 
among German youth, whose feelings are attuned to religion or who 
crave religious experiences. They crave not only religious experience ' 
but experience as such. The only thing that is strange is the method 
that is now followed: the spheres of the irrational, the only spheres that 
intellectualism has not yet touched, are now raised into consciousness 
and put under its lens. For in practice this is where the modern intel- 
lectualist form of romantic irrationalism leads. This method of emanci- 
pation from intellectualism may well bring about the very opposite of 
what those who take to it conceive as its goal. 

After Nietzsche's devastating criticism of those 'last men' who 'in- 
vented happiness,' I may leave aside altogeth er the naive optimism in 
which science — that isTlHF technique of mastering life which rests upon 
science — has been celebrated as the way to happiness. Who believes in 
this? — aside from a few big children in university chairs or editorial 
offices. Let us resume our argument. 

Under these internal presupposition s, what is th£ meamng of science 
as a^yo^tion, now after all these f ormer illusions, the 'way to true be- 
ing,' the 'way to true art,' the 'way to true nature,' the 'way to true God,' 
the 'way to true happiness,' have been dispelled? Tolstoi has given the 
simplest answer, with the words: 'Science is meaningless because it gives 
no answer to our question, the only question important for us: "What 
shall we do and how shall we live?"' That science does not give an 
answer to this is indisputable. The on ly question that remains is the 
sense_in which science gives 'no' answe r, and whether or not science 
might jet be of som e use to the one w ho puts the question correctly. 

Today one usuall y speaks of science as 'free from presuppositions.' 
Is there such a thing? It depends upon what one understands thereby. 
All scientific work presupposes that the rules of logic and method are 
valid; these are the general foundations of our orientation in the world; 
and, at least for our special question, these presuppositions are the least 
problematic aspect of science. Science further presupposes that what 
is yielded by scientific work is important in the sense that it ~is 'wor th 
being known.' In this, obviously, are contained all our problems. For 
this^presupposition cannot be proved by scientific means. It can only 
be interpreted with reference to its ultimate meaning, which we must 
reject or accept~ac cordIng to our ultir nate position towards life. ^ 

Furthermore, the nature of the relationship of scientific work and its 
presuppositions varies widely according to their structure. The natural 


sciences, for instance, physics, chemistry, and astronomy, presuppose 
as self-evident that it is worth while to know the ultimate laws o T cosmic 
events as far as science can construe them. This is the case not only 
because with such knowledge one can attain technical results but for 
its own sake, if the quest for such knowledge is to be a 'vocation.' Yet 
this presupposition can by no means be proved. And still less can it be 
provedHthat^the existence of The world which these sciences describe is 
worth while, that it has any 'meaning,' or that it makes sense to Uve 
in such a world. Science does not ask for the answers to such questions. 

Consider modern medicine, a practical technology which is highly de- 
veloped scientifically. The general 'presuppositi on' of the medical enter- 
prise is stated trivially in the assertion that medical science has the task of 
maintaining life as such and of diminishing suffering as such to the 
greatest possible degree. Yet this is problematical. By his means the medP 
cal man preserves the life of the mortally ill man, even if the patient 
implores us to relieve him of life, even if his relatives, to whom his life 
is worthless and to whom the costs of maintaining his worthless life 
grow unbearable, grant his redemption from suffering. Perhaps a poor 
lunatic is involved, whose relatives, whether they admit it or not, wish 
and must wish for his death. Yet the presuppositions of medicine, and 
the penal code, prevent the physician from relinquishing his therapeutic 
efforts. Whether life is worth while li ving a nd when — this guestjon i£ 
not asked by medicine. Natural science gives us an answer to the ques- 
tion of what we must do if we wish to master life technically. It leaves 
quite aside, or assumes for its purposes, whether we should and do wish 
to master life technically and whether it ultimately makes sense to do so. 

Consider a discipline such as aesthetics. The fact that there are works 
of art is given for aesthetics. It seeks to find out under what conditions 
this fact exists, but it does not raise the question whether or not the 
realm of art is perhaps a realm of diabolical grandeur, a realm of this 
world, and therefore, in its core, hostile to God and, in its innermost and 
aristocratic spirit, hostile to the brotherhood of man. Hence3__aesthetks 
does not ask whether there should be works of jrt. 

Consider jiirisprudence. It establishes what is valid according to the 
rules of juristic thought, which is partly bound by logically compelling 
and partly by conventionally given schemata. Juridical thought holds 
when certain legal rules and certain methods of interpretations are recog- 
nized as binding. Whether there should be law and vyhether one should 
establish just these rules — such questions jurisprudence does not answer. 


It can only state: If one wishes this result, according to the norms of our 
legal thought, this legal rule is the appropriate means of attaining it. 

Consider the jiistorical and cultural sciences. T hey teach us h ow to 
understand and interpret polTdan^irrTTstrcTTiterary, and social phenomena 
in terms of their origins. But they give us no answer to the question, 
whether the existence of these cultural phenomena have been and are 
worth while. And they do not answer the further question, whether it is 
worth the effort required to know them. They presuppose that there is 
an interest in partaking, through this procedure, of the community of 
'civilized men.' But they cannot prove 'scientifically' that this is the case; 
and that they presuppose this interest by no means proves that it goes 
without saying. In fact it is not at all self-evident. 

Finally, let us consider the disciplines close to me: sociology, historyj^ 
economics, political science, and those types of cultural philosophy that^ 
make it their task to interpret these sciences. It is said, and I agree, that 
politics is out of place in the lecture-room. It does not belong there 
on the part of the students. If, for instance, in the lecture-room of my 
former colleague Dietrich Schiifer in Berlin, pacifist students were to 
surround his desk and make an uproar, I should deplore it just as much 
as I should deplore the uproar which anti-pacifist students are said to 
have made against Professor Forster, whose views in many ways are 
as remote as could be from mine. Neither does politics, however, belong 
in the lecture-room on the part of the docents, and when the docent is 
scientifically concerned with politics, it belongs there least of all. 

To take a practical political stand is one thing, and to analyze political 
structures and party positions is another. When speaking in a political 
meeting about democracy, one does not hide one's personal standpoint; 
indeed, to come out clearly and take a stand is one's damned duty. The 
words one uses in such a m^e^eting are not means of scientific analysis but 
means of canvassing votes and winning over others. They are not plow- 
shares to loosen the soil of contemplative thought; they are swords 
against the enemies: such words are weapons. It would be an outrage, 
however, to use words in this fashion in a lecture or in the lecture-room. 
If, for instance, 'democracy' is under discussion, one considers its various 
forms, analyzes them in the way they function, determines what results 
for the conditions of life the one form has as compared with the other. 
Then one confronts the forms of democracy with non-democratic forms 
of political order and endeavors to come to a position where the student 
may find the point from which, in terms of his ultimate ideals, he can 


take a stand. But the true teacher will beware of imposing from the plat- 
form any political position upon the student, whether it is expressed 
or suggested. 'To let the facts speak for themselves' is the mostunfair 
way of putting over a political position to the student. 

Why should we abstain from doing this? I state in advance that some 
highly esteemed colleagues are of the opinion that it is not possible to 
carry through this self-restraint and that, even if it were possible, it 
would be a whim to avoid declaring oneself. Now one cannot demon- 
strate scientifically what the duty of an academic teacher is. One can 
only demand of the teacher that he have the intellectual integrity to see ' 
that it is one thing to state facts, to determine mathematical or logical 
relations or the internal structure of cultural values, while it is another 
thing to answer questions of the value of culture and its individual con- 
tents and the question of how one should act in the cultural community 
and in political associations. These are quite heterogeneous problems. If 
he asks further why he should not deal with both types of problems in 
the lecture-room, the answer is: because th e prophe t and th e demago gue 
do not belong on the academic platform. 

To the prophet and tlie demagogue, it is said: 'Go your ways out into 
the streets and speak openly to the world,' that is, speak where criticism 
is possible. In the lecture -room we stand opposite our audience, and it 
has to remain silent. I deem it irresponsible to exploit the circumstance 
that for the sake of their career the students have to attend a teacher's 
course while there is nobody present to oppose him with criticism. The 
task of the teacher is to serve the students with his knowledge and scien- 
tific experience and not to imprint upon them his personal political 
views. It is certainly possible that the individual teacher will not entirely 
succeed in eliminating his personal sympathies. He is then exposed to the 
sharpest criticism in the forum of his own conscience. And this deficiency 
does not prove anything; other errors are also possible, for instance, 
erroneous statements of fact, and yet they prove nothing against the duty 
of searching for the truth. I also reject this in the very interest of science. 
I am ready to prove from the works of our historians that whenever the 
man of science introduces his personal value judgment, a full under- 
standing of the facts ceases. But this goes beyond tonight's topic and 
would require lengthy elucidation. 

I ask only: How should a devout Catholic, on the one hand, and a 
Freemason, on the other, in a course on the forms of church and state 
or on religious history ever be brought to evaluate these subjects alike? 


This is out of the question. And yet the academic teacher must desire 
and must demand of himself to serve the one as well as the other by his 
knowledge and methods. Now you will rightly say that the devout 
Catholic will never accept the view of the factors operative in bringing 
about Christianity which a teacher who is free of his dogmatic presup- 
positions presents to him. Certainly! The difference, however, lies in the 
following: Science 'free from presuppositions,' in the sense of a rejection 
of religious bonds, does not know of the 'miracle' and the 'revelation.' 
If it did, science would be unfaithful to its own 'presuppositions.' The 
believer knows both, miracle and revelation. And science -^free from^ 
presuppositions' expects from him no less — and no more — than acknowl- 
edgment that // the process can be explained without those supernatural 
interventions, wliich an empirical explanation has to eliminate as causal 
factors, the process has to be explained the way science attempts to do. 
And the believer can do this without being disloyal to his faith. 

But has the contribution of science no meaning at all for a man who 
does not care to know facts as such and to whom only the practical 
standpoint matters? Perhaps science nevertheless contributes something. 

The__primary task of a useful teac her i s tojeach his students jtoj-ecog- 
nize 'inconvenient' f acts — I mean fac ts that are inconvenient for their 
party opinions. And for every party opinion there are facts that are 
extremely inconvenient, for my own opinion no less than for others. I 
believe the teacher accomplishes more than a mere intellectual task if he 
compels his audience to accustom itself to the existence of such facts. I 
would be so immodest as even to apply the expression 'moral achieve- 
ment,' though perhaps this may sound too grandiose for something 
that should go without saying. 

Th us far I have spoken only of practical reasons for avoiding the im- 
position of a personal poi nt of vi ew. But these are not the only reasons. 
The impossibility of 'scientifically' pleading for practical and interested 
stands — except in discussing the means for a firmly given and presup- 
posed end — rests upon reasons that lie far deeper. 

'Scientific' pleading js meaningless in principle because the various', 
value spheres of the world stand in irreconcilable conflict with each 
other.TTie elder Mill, whose philosophy I will not praise otherwise, was 
on this point right when he said: If one proceeds from pure experience, 
one arrives at polytheism. This is shallow in formulation and sounds 
paradoxical, and yet there is truth in it. If anything, we realize again 
today that something can be sacred not only in spite of its not being 


beautiful, but rather because and in so far as it is not beautiful. You 
will find this documented in the fifty-third chapter of the book of Isaiah 
and in the twenty-first Psalm. And, since Nietzsche, we realize that 
something can be beautiful, not only in spite of the aspect in which it is 
not good, but rather in that very aspect. You will find this expressed 
earlier in the Fl.eurs du mal, as Baudelaire named his volume of poems. 
It is commonplace to observe that something may be true altho ugh 
it is not beautiful and not holy and not good. Indeed it may be true 
in precisely those aspects. But all these are only the most elementary 
cases of the struggle that the gods of the various orders and values are 
engaged in. I do not know how one might wish to decide 'scientifically' 
the value of French and German culture; for here, too, different gods 
struggle with one another, now and for all times to come. %/ / 

We live as did the ancients when their world was not yet disenchanted 
of its gods and demons, only we live in a different sense. As Hellenic 
man at times sacrificed to Aphrodite and at other times to Apollo, and, 
above all, as everybody sacrificed to the gods of his city, so do we still 
nowadays, only the bearing of man has been disenchanted and denuded 
of its mystical but inwardly genuine plasticity. Fate, and certainly not 
'science,' holds sway over these gods and their struggles. One can on|y 
understand what the godhead is for the one order or for the ot^er, or 
better, what godhead is in the one or in the other order. With_this 
understanding, however, the matter has reached its limit so far as it can 
be discussed in a lecture-room and by a professprj Yet the great and vital 
problem that is contained therein is, of course, very far from being con- 
cluded. But forces other than university chairs have their say in this 

What man will take upon himself the attempt to 'refute scientifically' 
the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount? For instance, the sentence, 'resist 
no evil,' or the image of turning the other cheek? And yet it is clear, 
in mundane perspective, that this is an ethic of undignified conduct; one 
has to choose between the religious dignity which this ethic confers and 
the dignity of manly conduct which preaches something quite different; 
'resist evil — lest you be co-responsible for an overpowering evil.' Ac- 
cording to our ultimate standpoint, the one is the devil and the other 
the God, and the individual has to decide which is God for him and 
which is the devil. And so it goes throughout all the orders of life. 

The grandiose rationalism of an ethical and methodical conduct of life 
which flows from every religious prophecy has dethroned this polytheism 


in favor of the 'one thing that is needful.' Faced with the realities of 
outer and inner life, Christianity has deemed it necessary to make those 
compromises and relative judgments, which we all know from its his- 
tory. Today the routines of everyday life challenge religion. Many old 
gods ascend from their graves; they are disenchanted and hence take 
the form of impersonal forces. They strive to gain power over our lives 
and again they resume their eternal struggle with one another. What is 
hard for modern man, and especially for the younger generation, is to 
measure up to workaday existence. The ubiquitous chase for 'experience' 
stems from this weakness; for it is weakness not to be able to countenance 
the stern seriousness of our fateful times. 

Our civilization destines us to realize more clearly these struggles 
again, after our eyes have been blinded for a thousand years — ^blinded by 
the allegedly or presumably exclusive orientation towards the grandiose 
moral fervor of Christian ethics. — '■ / 

But enough of these questions which lead far away. Those of our 
youth are in error who react to all this by saying, 'Yes, but we happen , 
to come to lectures in order to experience something more than mere 
analyses and statements of fact.' The error is that they seek in the pro- ^^A 

fessor something different from what stands before them. iThey crave a ,• 
leader and not a teacher. But we are placed upon the platform solely ,as_.,.^^-s^/ 
teachers. And these are two different things, as one can readily see. Permit 
me to take you once more to America, because there one can often ob- 
serve such matters in their most massive and original shape. 

The American boy learns unspeakably less than the German boy. 
In spite of an incredible number of examinations, his school life has not 
had the significance of turning him into an absolute creature of ex- 
aminations, such as the German. For in America, bureaucracy, which 
presupposes the cxaminati eai, diploma as a ticket of admission to the 
realm of office prebends, is only in its beginnings. The young American 
has no respect for anything or anybody, for tradition or for public office — 
unless it is for the personal achievement of individual men. This is what 
the American calls 'democracy.' This is the meaning of democracy, how- 
ever distorted its intent may in reality be, and this intent is what 
matters here. The American's conception of the teacher who faces him 
is: he sells me his knowledge and his methods for my father's money, 
just as the greengrocer sells my mother cabbage. And that is all. To be 
sure, if the teacher happens to be a football coach, then, in this field, he is 
a leader. But if he is not this (or something similar in a different field 


of sports), he is simply a teacher and nothing more. And no young 
American would think of having the teacher sell him a Weltanschauung 
or a code of conduct. Now, when formulated in this manner, we should 
reject this. But the question is whether there is not a grain of salt 
contained in this feeling, which I have deliberately stated in extreme 
with some exaggeration. 

Fellow students! You come to our lectures and demand from us the 
qualities of leadership, and you fail to realize in advance that of a 
M hundred professors at least ninety-nine do not and must not claim to 
I be football masters in the vital problems of life, or even to be 'leaders' 
in matters of conduct. Please, consider that a man's value does not de- 
pend on whether or not he has leadership qualities. And in any case, the 
qualities that make a man an excellent scholar and academic teacher 
are not the qualities that make him a leader to give directions in prac- 
tical life or, more specifically, in politics. It is pure accident if a 
teacher also possesses this quality, and it is a critical situation if every 
teacher on the platform feels himself confronted with the students' ex- 
pectation that the teacher should claim this quality. It is still more critical 
if it is left to every academic teacher to set himself up as a leader in the 
lecture-room. For those who most frequently think of themselves as 
leaders often qualify least as leaders. But irrespective of whether they are 
or are not, the platform situation simply offers no possibility of proving 
themselves to be leaders. The professor who feels called upon to act as a 
counselor of youth and enjoys their trust may prove himself a man in 
personal human relations with them. And if he feels called upon to in- 
tervene in the struggles of world views and party opinions, he may do so 
outside, in the market place, in the press, in meetings, in associations, 
wherever he wishes. But after all, it is somewhat too convenient to 
demonstrate one's courage in taking a stand where the audience and 
possible opponents are condemned to silence. 

Finally, you will put the question: 'If this is so, what then does 
science actually and positively contribute to practical and personal "life".?' 
Therewith we are back again at the problem of science as a 'vocation.' 

First, o f cours e, science contributes_tojdhe_tech^ 
life by calculating external objects_as .welLas man's activities. Well, you 
will say, that, after all, amounts to no more than the greengrocer of the 
American boy. I fully agree. 

Second, science can contribute something that the greengrocer can- 
not: methods of thinking, the tools and the training for thought. Per- 


haps you will say: well, that is no vegetable, but it amounts to no more 
than the means for procuring vegetables. Well and good, let us leave it 
at that for today. 

Fortunately, however, the contribution of science does not reach its 
limit with this. W e are in a position to help you to a third objective: 
to gain clarity. Of course, it is presupposed that we ourselves possess 
clarity. As far as~~this is the case, we can make clear to you the 

In practice, you can take this or that position when concerned with a 
problem of value — for simplicity's sake, please think of social phenomena 
as examples. // you take such and such a stand, then, according to scien- 
tific experience, you have to use such and such a means in order to 
carry out your conviction practically. Now, these means are perhaps 
such that you believe you must reject them. Then you simply must 
choose between the end and the inevitable means. Does the end 'justify' 
the means? Or does it not? The teacher can confront you with the 
necessity of this choice. He cannot do more, so long as he wishes to re- 
main a teacher and not to become a demagogue. He can, of course, 
also tell you that if you want such and such an end, then you must take 
into the bargain the subsidiary consequences which according to all 
experience will occur. Again we find ourselves in the same situation 
as before. These are still problems that can also emerge for the 
technician, who in numerous instances has to make decisions according 
to the principle of the lesser evil or of the relatively best. Only to him one 
thing, the main thing, is usually given, namely, the end. But as soon 
as truly 'ultimate' problems are at stake for us this is not the case. 
With this, at long last, we come to the final service that science as such 
can render to the aim of clarity, and at the same time we come to the 
limits of science. 

Besides we can and we should state: In terms of its meaning, such 
and such a practical stand can be derived with inner consistency, and 
hence inte grity , from this or that ultimate weltanschauliche position. 
Perhaps it can only be derived from one such fundamental position, or 
maybe from several, but it cannot be derived from these or those other 
positions. Figuratively speaking, you serve this god and you offend the 
other god when you decide to adhere to this position. And if you remain 
faithful to yourself, you will necessarily come to certain final conclusions 
that subjectively make sense. This much, in principle at least, can be 
accomplished. Philosophy, as a special discipline, and the essentially 


philosophical discussions of principles in the other sciences attempt to 
achieve this. Thus, if we are competent in our pursuit (which must be 
presupposed here) we can force the individual, or at least we can help 
him, to give himself an account of the ultimate meaning of his own 
conduct. This appears to me as not so trifling a thing to do, even for 
one's own personal life. Again, I am tempted to say of a teacher who 
succeeds in this: he stands in the service of 'moral' forces; he fulfils the 
duty of bringing about self-clarification and a sense of responsibility. 
And I believe he will be the more able to accomplish this, the more 
conscientiously he avoids the desire personally to impose upon or sug- 
gest to his audience his own stand. 

This proposition, which I present here, always takes its point of 
departure from the one fundamental fact, that so long as life remains 
immanent and is interpreted in its own terms, it knows only of an un- 
ceasing struggle of these gods with one another. Or speaking directly, 
the ultimately possible attitudes toward Hfe are irreconcilable, and 
hence their struggle can never be brought to a final conclusion. Thus 
it is necessary to make a decisive choice. Whether, under such condi- 
tions, science is a worth while Vocation' for somebody, and whether 
science itself has an objectively valuable Vocation' are again value judg- 
ments about which nothing can be said in the lecture-room. To affirm 
the value of science is a presupposition for teaching there. I personally 
by my very work answer in the affirmative, and I also do so from 
precisely the standpoint that hates intellectualism as the worst devil, as 
youth does today, or usually only fancies it does. In that case the 
word holds for these youths: 'Mind you, the devil is old; grow old to 
understand him.' This does not mean age in the sense of the birth 
certificate. It means that if one wishes to settle with this devil, one must 
not take to flight before him as so many like to do nowadays. First of 
all, one has to see the devil's ways to the end in order to realize his power 
and his limitations. 

Science today is a 'vocation' organized in special disciphnes in the 
service of self-clarification and knowledge of interrelated facts. It is not 
the gift of grace of seers and prophets dispensing sacred values and 
revelations, nor does it partake of the contemplation of sages and phi- 
losophers about the meaning of the universe. This, to be sure, is the 
inescapable condition of our historical situation. We cannot evade it so 
long as we remain true to ourselves. And if Tolstoi's question recurs to 
you: as science does not, who is to answer the question: 'What shall we 


do, and, how shall we arrange our lives?' or, in the words used here 
tonight: 'Which of the warring gods should we serve? Or should we 
serve perhaps an entirely different god, and who is he?' then one can 
say that only a prophet or a savior can give the answers. If there is no 
such man, or if his message is no longer believed in, then you will cer- 
tainly not compel him to appear on this earth by having thousands of 
professors, as privileged hirelings of the state, attempt as petty prophets 
in their lecture-rooms to take over his role. All they will accomplish is 
to show that they are unaware of the decisive state of affairs: the prophet 
for whom so many of our younger generation yearn simply does not 
exist. But this knowledge in its forceful significance has never become 
vital for them. The inward interest of a truly religiously 'musical' man 
can never be served by veiling to him and to others the fundamental 
fact that he is destined to live in a godless and prophetless time by 
giving him the ersatz of armchair prophecy. The integrity of his re- 
ligious organ, it seems to me, must rebel against this. 

Now you will be inclined to say: Which stand does one take towards 
the factual existence of 'theology' and its claims to be a 'science'? Let us 
not flinch and evade the answer. To be sure, 'theology' and 'dogmas' do 
not exist universally, but neither do they exist for Christianity alone. 
Rather (going backward in time), they exist in highly developed 
form also in Islam, in Manicheanism, in Gnosticism, in Orphism, in 
Parsism, in Buddhism, in the Hindu sects, in Taoism, and in the 
Upanishads, and, of course, in Judaism. To be sure their systematic 
development varies greatly. It is no accident that Occidental Christianity 
— in contrast to the theological possessions of Jewry — has expanded and 
elaborated theology more systematically, or strives to do so. In the Occi- 
dent the development of theology has had by far the greatest historical 
significance. This is the product of the Hellenic spirit, and all theology 
of the West goes back to it, as (obviously) all theology of the East goes 
back to Indian thought. All theology represents an intellectual ration- 
alization of the possession of sacred values. No s cience is jbsolutel y fre e i^j 
from, presuppositions, and no science can prove its fundamental value 
to the man who rej erts th ese pre?^ i ip po^sitionsr~ Every~tKeology', however, 
adds a few specific presuppositions for its work and thus for the justifica- 
tion of its^eHstehce. Their meaning and scope vary. Every theology, in- 
cluding for instance Hinduist theology, presupposes that the world must 
have a meaning, and the question is how to interpret this meaning so 
tjiat it is intellectually conceivable. 


It is the same as with Kant's epistemology. He took for his point of 
departure the presupposition: 'Scientific truth exists and it is valid7 
and then asked: 'Under which presuppositions of thought is truTE^ 
possible and meaningful?' The modern aestheticians (actually or ex- 
pressly, as for instance, G. v. Lukacs) proceed from the presupposition 
that 'works of art exist,' and then ask: 'How is their existence meaning- 
ful and possible?' 

As a rule, theologies, however, do not content themselves with this 
(essentially religious and philosophical) presupposition. They regularly 
proceed from the further presupposition that certain 'revelations' are 
facts relevant for salvation and as such make possible a meaningful 
conduct of life. Hence, these revelations must be believed in. Moreover, 
theologies presuppose that certain subjective states and acts possess the 
quality of holiness, that is, they constitute a way of Ufe, or at least ele- 
ments of one, that is religiously meaningful. Then the question of the- 
ology is: How can these presuppositions, which must simply be accepted 
be meaningfully interpreted in a view of the universe? For theology, 
these presuppositions as such lie beyond the limits of 'science.' They do 
not represent 'knowledge,' in the usual sense, but rather a 'possession.' 
Whoever does not 'possess' faith, or the other holy states, cannot have 
theology as a substitute for them, least of all any other science. On the 
contrary, in every 'positive' theology, the devout reaches the point where 
the Augustinian sentence holds : credo non quod, sed quia absurdum est. 

The capacity for the accomplishment of religious virtuosos — the 'intel- 
lectual sacrifice' — is the decisive characteristic of the positively religious 
man. That this is so is shown by the fact that in spite (or rather in con- 
sequence) of theology (which unveils it) the tension between the value- 
spheres of 'science' and the sphere of 'the holy' is unbridgeable. Legiti- 
mately, only the disciple offers the 'intellectual sacrifice' to the prophet, 
the believer to the church. Never as yet has a new prophecy emerged 
(and I repeat here deliberately this image which has offended some) by 
way of the need of some modern intellectuals to furnish their souls with, 
so to speak, guaranteed genuine antiques. In doing so, they happen to 
remember that religion has belonged among such antiques, and of all 
things religion is what they do not possess. By way of substitute, however, 
they play at decorating a sort of domestic chapel with small sacred images 
from all over the world, or they produce surrogates through all sorts of 
psychic experiences to which they ascribe the dignity of mystic holiness, 
which they peddle in the book market. This is plain humbug or self- 


deception. It is, however, no humbug but rather something very sincere 
and genuine if some of the youth groups who during recent years have 
quietly grown together give their human community the interpretation 
of a reUgious, cosmic, or mystical relation, although occasionally perhaps 
such interpretation rests on misunderstanding of self. True as it is that 
every act of genuine brotherliness may be linked with the awareness 
that it contributes something imperishable to a super-personal realm, it 
seems to me dubious whether the dignity of purely human and com- 
munal relations is enhanced by these religious interpretations. But that 
is no longer our theme. 

The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intel- 
lectualiz ation and, above all^ __bY^]^e~^disenchantmunr~6f the world.' 
Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have repeated" "fronT 
public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the 
brotherliness of direct and personal human relations. It is not accidental 
that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental, nor is it accidental 
that today only within the smallest and intimate circles, in personal 
human situations, in pianissimo, that something is pulsating that corre- 
sponds to the prophetic pneuma, which in former times swept through 
the great communities like a firebrand, welding them together. If we 
attempt to force and to 'invent' a monumental style in art, such miserable 
monstrosities are produced as the many monuments of the last twenty 
years. If one tries intellectually to construe new religions without a new 
and genuine prophecy, then, in an inner sense, something similar will 
result, but with still worse effects. And academic prophecy, finally, will 
create only fanatical sects but never a genuine community. 

To the person who cannot bear the fate of the times like a man, one 
must say: may he rather return silently, without the usual publicity 
build-up of renegades, but simply and plainly. The arms of the old 
churches are opened widely and compassionately for him. After all, they 
do not make it hard for him. One way or another he has to bring his 
'intellectual sacrifice' — that is inevitable. If he can really do it, we shall 
not rebuke him. For such an intellectual sacrifice in favor of an uncon- 
ditional religious devotion is ethically quite a different matter than the 
evasion of the plain duty of intellectual integrity, which sets in if one 
lacks the courage to clarify one's own ultimate standpoint and rather 
facilitates this duty by feeble relative judgments. In my eyes, such re- 
ligious return stands higher than the academic prophecy, which does not 
clearly realize that in the lecture-rooms of the university no other virtue 


holds but plain intellectual integrity. Integrity, however, compels us to 
state that for the many who today tarry for new prophets and saviors, 
the situation is the same as resounds in the beautiful Edomite watchman's 
song of the period of exile that has been included among Isaiah's oracles: 

He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? The watch- 
man said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, en- 
quire ye: return, come. 

The people to whom this was said has enquired and tarried for more 
than two millennia, and we are shaken when we realize its fate. From this 
we want to draw the lesson that nothing is gained by yearning and 
tarrying alone, and we shall act differently. We shall set to work and 
meet the 'demands of the day,' in human relations as well as in our 
vocation. This, however, is plain and simple, if each finds and obeys 
the demon who holds the fibers of his very life. 

Part II 

V I. ^Structures ol x ower 

I : The Prestige and Power of the 'Great Powers' 

All political structures use force, but they differ in the manner in which -». 
and the extent to which they use or threaten to use it against other po- 
litical organizations. These differences play a specific role in determining 
the form and destiny of political communities. Not all political structures 
are equally 'expansive.' They do not all strive for an outward expansion 
of their power, or keep their force in readiness for acquiring political 
power over other territories and communities by incorporating them or 
making them dependent. Hence, as structures of power, political organiza- 
tions vary in the extent to which they are turned outward. 

The political structure of Switzerland is 'neutralized' through a col- 
lective guarantee of the Great Powers. For various reasons, Switzerland 
is not very strongly desired as an object for incorporation. Mutual jeal- 
ousies existing among neighboring communities of equal strength pro- 
tect it from this fate. Switzerland, as well as Norway, is less threatened 
than is the Netherlands, which possesses colonies; and the Netherlands 
is less threatened than Belgium, for the latter's colonial possessions are 
especially exposed, as is Belgium herself in case of war between her 
powerful neighbors. Sweden too is quite exposed. 

The attitude of political structures towards the outside may be more 
'isolationist' or more 'expansive.' And such attitudes change. The power 
of poHtical structures has a specific internal dynamic. On the basis of 
this power, the members may pretend to a special 'prestige,' and their /^ 
pretensions may influence the external conduct of the power structures. 

Wirtschaft und Gesellschajt (Tubingen, 1922 edition), part iii, chap. 3, pp. 619-30; and 
Gesammelte Aufsaetze ztir Soziologie und Sozialpoliti\ (Tubingen, 1924), pp. 484-6. 
Wirtschaft und Gesellschajt appeared posthumously (1921) as part of the Grund- 
riss fiir Sozialokonomik, handled by J. C. B. Mohr (P. Siebeck), Tubingen. Weber worked 
on the descriptive parts of Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft from 1910, and most of the chapters 
were essentially written before 1914. 


1 60 POWER 

Experience teaches that claims to prestige have always played into the 
origin of wars. Their part is difficult to gauge; it cannot be determined 
in general, but it is very obvious. The realm of 'honor,' which is com- 
parable to the 'status order' within a social structure, pertains also to the 
interrelations of poUtical structures. 

Feudal lords, like modern officers or bureaucrats, are the natural and 
primary exponents of this desire for power-oriented prestige for one's 
own political structure. Power for their political community means 
power for themselves, as well as the prestige based on this power. 

For the bureaucrat and the officer, an expansion of power, however, 
means more office positions, more sinecures, and better opportunities 
for promotion. (This last may be the case even for the officer in a lost 
war.) For the feudal vassal, expansion of power means the acquisition 
of new objects for inteudation and more provisions for his progeny. In 
his speech promoting the crusades, Pope Urban focused attention on 
these opportunities and not, as has been said, on 'overpopulation.' 

Besides and beyond these direct economic interests, which naturally 
exist everv where among strata hving off the exercise of poHtical power, 
V,the striving for prestige pertains to all specific power structures and hence 
to all political structures. This striving is not identical simply with 'na- 
tional pride' — of this, more later — and it is not identical with the mere 
pride in the excellent quaUties, actual or presimied, of one's own political 
community or in the mere possession of such a polit\'. Such pride can be 
highly developed, as is the case among the Swiss and the Norwegians, 
yet it may actually be strictly isolationist and free from pretension to 
political prestige. 

The prestige of power, as such, means in practice the glory of power 
over other communities; it means the expansion of power, though not 
always by way of incorporation or subjection. The big poHtical com- 
munities are the natural exponents of such pretensions to prestige. 

Every political structure naturally prefers to have weak rather than 
strong neighbors. Furthermore, as everv big poHtical community is a 
potential aspirant to prestige and a potential threat to all its neighbors, 
the big poHtical community, simply because it is big and strong, is la- 
tently and constantly endangered. Finally, by virtue of an unavoidable 
'dynamic of power,' wherever claims to prestige flame up — and this 
normally results from an acute poHtical danger to peace — they chaUenge 
and call forth the competition of all other possible bearers of prestige. 
The history of the last decade,^ especially the relations between Germany 


and France, shows the prominent effect of this irrational element in all 
political foreign relations. The sentiment of prestige is able to strengthen 
the ardent belief in the actual existence of one's own might, for this 
behef is important for positive self-assurance in case of conflict. Therefore, 
all those having vested interests in the political structure tend systemati- 
cally to cultivate this prestige sentiment. Nowadays one usually refers 
to those polities that appear to be the bearers of power prestige as the 
'Great Powers.' 

Among a plurality of co-existing polities, some, the Great Powers, 
usually ascribe to themselves and usurp an interest in poHtical and 
economic processes over a wide orbit. Today such orbits encompass the 
whole surface of the planet. 

During Hellenic Antiquity, the 'King,' that is, the Persian king, de- 
spite his defeat, was the most widely recognized Great Power. Sparta 
turned to him in order to impose, with his sanction, the King's Peace 
(Peace of Antalcidas) upon the Hellenic world. Later on, before the 
establishment of an empire, the Roman poHty assumed such a role. 

For general reasons of 'power dynamics' per se, the Great Powers are 
very often expansive powers; that is, they are associations aiming at ex- 
panding the territories of their respective poHtical communities bv the 
use or the threat of force or bv both. Great Powers, however, are not 
necessarily and not always oriented towards expansion. Their attitude 
in this respect often changes, and in these changes economic factors play 
a weighty part. 

For a time British policy, for instance, quite deliberately renimciated 
further political expansion. It renounced even the retention of colonies 
by means of force in favor of a 'Uttle England' poHcy, resting upon an 
isolationist limitation and a reHance on an economic primacy held to be 
unshakable. Influential representatives of the Roman rule bv notables 
would have liked to carry through a similar program of a 'httle Rome' 
after the Punic Wars, to restrict Roman pohtical subjection to Italv and 
the neighboring islands. 

The Spartan aristocrats, so far as they were able, quite deliberately 
limited their political expansion for the sake of isolation. They restricted 
themselves to the smashing of all other political structures that endan- 
gered their power and prestige. They favored the particularism of city 
states. Usually, in such cases, and in many similar ones, the ruling groups 
of notables (the Roman nobilitv of office, the English and other liberal 
notables, the Spartan overlords) harbor more or less distinct fears lest 

1 62 POWER 

an 'Imperator,' that is, a charismatic war lord, emerge. A tendency to- 
wards centraHzation o£ power goes very readily with a chronically con- 
quering 'imperialism,' and the war lord might gain the ascendancy at 
the expense of the power of the ruling notables. 

Like the Romans, the British, after a short time, were forced out of 
their policy of self-restraint and pressed into political expansion. This 
occurred, in part, through capitalist interests in expansion. 

2: The Economic Foundations of 'Imperialism' 

yune might be inclined to beUeve that the formation as well as the 
expansion of Great Power structures is always and primarily determined 
economically. The assumption that trade, especially if it is intensive and 
if it already exists in an area, is the normal prerequisite and the reason 
for its poHtical unification might readily be generalized. In individual 
cases this assumption does actually hold. The example of the Zollverein " 
lies close at hand, and there are numerous others. Closer attention, how- 
ever, very often reveals that this coincidence is not a necessary oneTand 
that the causal nexus by no means always points in a single direction. 

Germany, for instance, has been made into a unified economic terri- 
tory only through custom frontiers at her borders, which, in their course, 
were determined in a purely political manner.i/If the inhabitants of a 
territory seek to sell their products primarily in their own market, we 
may speak of an economically unified territory. Were all custom barriers 
eliminated, the economically determined market for the Eastern German 
cereal surplus, poor in gluten, would not be Western Germany but 
rather England. The economically determined market of the mining 
products and the heavy iron goods of Western Germany is by no means 
Eastern Germany; and Western Germany is not, in the main, the eco- 
nomically determined supplier of the industrial products for Eastern 
Germany. Above all, the interior lines of communications (railroads) of 
Germany would not be — and, in part, are not now — economically deter- 
mined routes for transporting heavy goods between east and west. 
Eastern Germany, however, would be the economic location for strong 
industries, the economically determined market and hinterland for 
which would be the whole of Western Russia. Such industries are now ^ 
cut off by Russian custom barriers and have been moved to Poland, 
directly behind the Russian custom frontier. Through this development, 
as is known, the political Anschluss of the Russian Poles to the Russian 


imperial idea, which seemed to be poHtically out o£ the question, has 
been brought into the realm of possibility. Thus, in this case, purely 
economically determined market relations have a politically unifying 

Germany, however, has been politically united against the economic 
determinants as such. It is not unusual for the frontiers of a polity to 
conflict with the mere geographically given location of industries; the 
political frontiers may encompass an area that, in terms of economic 
factors, strives to separate from it. In such situations, tensions between 
economic interests nearly always arise. However, if the political bond is 
once created, it is very often, yet not always, so incomparably stronger 
that under otherwise favorable conditions (e.g. the existence of a com- 
mon language) nobody would even think of political separation because 
of such economic tensions. This applies, for instance, to Germany. 
'' The formation of great states does not always follow the routes of 
export trade, although nowadays we are inclined to see things in this 
imperialist wayi As a rule, the 'continental' imperialism — European, Rus- 
sian, and American — just like the 'overseas imperialism' of the British 
and of those modeled after it, follow the tracks of previously existing 
capitalist interests, especially in foreign areas that are politically weak. 
And of course, at least for the formation of great overseas dominions of 
the past — in the overseas empires of Athens, Carthage, and Rome — export 
trade played its decisive part. 

Yet, even in these state organizations of Antiquity other economic inter- 
ests were at least of equal and often of far greater importance than were 
commercial profits: ground rents, farmed-out taxes, office fees, and simi- 
lar gains were especially desired. In foreign trade, in turn, the interest in 
selling within foreign territories definitely receded into the background 
as a motive for expansion. In the age of modern capitalism the interest 
in exporting to foreign territories is dominant, but in the ancient states 
the interest was rather in the possession of territories from which goods 
(raw materials) could be imported. 

Among the great states that have formed on the inland plains, the ex- 
change of goods played no regular or decisive part. The trading of goods 
was most relevant for the river-border states of the Orient, especially for 
Egypt; that is, for states that in this respect were similar to overseas states. 
The 'empire' of the Mongols, however, certainly did not rest on any 
intensive trade in goods. There, the mobility of the ruling stratum 
of horsemen made up for the lack of material means of communication 

164 POWER 

and made centralized administration possible. Neither the Chinese, nor 
the Persian, nor the Roman Empire after its transition from a coastal 
to a continental empire, originated and maintained itself on the basis 
of a pre-existing and a particularly intensive inland traffic in goods or 
highly developed means of communication. The continental expansion 
of Rome was undoubtedly very strongly, though not exclusively, deter- 
mined by capitalist interests; and these interests were above all the 
interests of tax-farmers, office hunters, and land speculators. They were 
not, in the first place, the interests of groups pursuing a particularly in- 
tensive trade in goods. 

The expansion of Persia was not in any way served by capitalist inter- 
est groups. Such groups did not exist there as motivating forces or as 
pace-makers, and just as little did they serve the founders of the Chi- 
nese Empire or the founders of the Carolingian Monarchy, 

Of course, even in these cases, the economic importance of trade was 
not altogether absent; yet other motives have played their part in every 
political overland expansion of the past, including the Crusades. These 
motives have included the interest in higher princely incomes, in preb- 
ends, fiefs, offices, and social honors for the vassals, knights, officers, 
officials, the younger sons of hereditary officeholders, and so on. The 
interests of trading seaports have not, of course, been so decisive as has 
overland expansion, although they were important as additional factors 
playing their secondary parts. The First Crusade was mainly an overland 

By no means has trade always pointed the way for political expansion. 
The causal nexus has very often been the reverse. Among the empires 
named above, those which had an administration technically able to 
establish at least overland means of communication did so for adminis- 
trative purposes. In principle, this has often been the exclusive purpose, 
regardless of whether or not the means of communication were ad- 
vantageous for existing or future trading needs. 

^ Under present-day conditions, Russia may well be considered a polity 
whose means of communication (railroads today) have been primarily 
determined not economically but rather politically. /The Austrian south- 
ern railroad, however, is another example. (Its shares are still called 
'lombards,' a term loaded with political reminiscences.) And there is 
hardly a polity without 'strategic railroads,' Nevertheless, great achieve- 
ments of this kind have been made with the concomitant expectation 
of a traffic giiaranteeing long-run profitableness. It was no different in 


the past: it cannot be proved that the ancient Roman miUtary highroads 
served a commercial purpose; and it certainly was not the case for the 
Persian and Roman mail posts, which served exclusively political pur- 
poses, ifi spite of this, however, the development of trade in the past has 
of course been the normal result of political unification. Political uni- 
fication first placed trade upon an assured and guaranteed legal basis. 
Even this rule, however, is not without exceptions. For, besides depend- 
ing on pacification and formal guarantees of law enforcement, the de- 
velopment of trade has been bound to certain economic conditions (espe- 
cially the development of capitalism). 

The evolution of capitalism may be strangled by the manner in which 
a unified political structure is administered. This was the case, for in- 
stance, in the late Roman Empire. Here a unified structure took the 
place of a league of city states; it was based upon a strong subsistence 
agrarian economy. This increasingly made for liturgies as the way of 
raising the means for the army and the administration; and these directly 
suffocated capitalism. 

Yet, if trade in itself is by no means the decisive factor in political 
expansion, the economic structure in general does co-determine the extent 
and manner of political expansion. Besides women, cattle, and slaves, 
scarce land is one of the original and foremost objects of forceful acquisi- 
tion. For conquering peasant communities, the natural way is to take the 
land directly and to wipe out its settled population. 

The Teutonic people's movement has, on the whole, taken this course 
only to a moderate degree. As a compact mass, this movement probably 
went somewhat beyond the present linguistic frontiers, but only in scat- 
tered zones. How far a 'land scarcity,' caused by overpopulation, con- 
tributed, how far the political pressure of other tribes, or simply good 
opportunities, must be left open. In any case, some of the individual 
groups who went out for conquest over a long period of time reserved 
their claims to the arable land back home, in case they should return. The 
.^and of foreign territories has been politically incorporated in more or 
less violent fashion. / 

Since land is important for the way in which the victor will exploit 
his rights, it also plays an important role for other economic structures. 
As Franz Oppenheimer again and again has rightly emphasized, ground 
rent is frequently the product of violent political subjection. Given a 
subsistence economy and a feudal structure this subjection means, of 
course, that the peasantry of the incorporated area will not be wiped 

1 66 POWER 

out but rather will be spared and made tributary to the conqueror, who 
becomes the landlord. This has happened wherever the army was no 
longer a V olkjheerbann composed of self-equipped freemen, or yet a 
mercenary or bureaucratic mass army, but rather an army of self- 
equipped knights, as was the case with the Persians, the Arabs, the Turks, 
the Normans, and the Occidental feudal vassals in general. 

The interest in ground rent has also meant a great deal for plutocratic 
trading communities engaged in conquest. As commercial profits were 
preferably invested in land and in indebted bondsmen, the normal aim of 
warfare, even in Antiquity, was to gain fertile land fit to yield ground 
rent. The Lelantine War,'* which marked a sort of epoch in early Hellenic 
history, was almost wholly carried on at sea and among trading cities. 
But the original object of dispute between the leading patricians of 
Chalcis and Eretria, besides tributes of various sorts, was the fertile 
Lelantine plain. One of the most important privileges that the Attic 
Maritime League evidently offered to the demos of the ruling city was 
to break up the land monopoly of the subject cities. The Athenians were 
to receive the right to acquire and mortgage land anywhere. 

The establishment of commercitim among cities allied to Rome meant 
in practice the same thing. Also, the overseas interests of the mass of 
Italics settled throughout the Roman sphere of influence certainly repre- 
sented, at least in part, land interests of an essentially capitalist nature, 
as we know them from the Verrinic speeches. 

During its expansion, the capitalist interest in land may come into 
conflict with the land interest of the peasantry. Under a policy of expan- 
sion, such a conflict has played its part in the struggles between the 
Roman estates in the long epoch ending with the Gracchi. The big hold- 
ers of money, cattle, and men naturally wished the newly gained land 
to be dealt with as public land for lease {ager publicus). As long as the 
regions were not too remote, the peasants demanded that the land be 
partitioned in order to provide for their progeny. The compromises be- 
tween these two interests are distinctly reflected in tradition, although the 
details are certainly not very reliable. 

Rome's overseas expansion, as far as it was economically determined, 
shows features that have since recurred in basic outline again and 
again and which still recur today. These features occurred in Rome in 
pronounced fashion and in gigantic dimensions, for the first time in 
history. However fluid the transitions to other types may be, these 
'Roman' features are peculiar to a specific type of capitalist relations, 


or rather, they provide the conditions for the existence of this specific 
type, which we wish to call imperialist capitalism. 

These features are rooted in the capitalist interests of tax-farmers, of 
state creditors, of suppliers to the state, of overseas traders privileged 
by the state, and of colonial capitalists. The profit opportunities of all 
these groups rest upon the direct exploitation of executive powers, that is, 
of political power directed towards expansion. 

By forcibly enslaving the inhabitants, or at least tying them to the 
soil {glebae adscriptio) and exploiting them as plantation labor, the 
acquisition of overseas colonies brings tremendous opportunities for 
profit for capitalist interest-groups. The Carthaginians seem to have 
been the first to have arranged such an organization on a large scale; 
the Spaniards in South America, the English in the Southern States of 
the Union, and the Dutch in Indonesia were the last to do it in the grand 
manner. The acquisition of overseas colonies also facilitates the forceful 
monopolization of trade with these colonies and possibly with other 
areas. Wherever the administrative apparatus of the polity is not suited 
for the collection of taxes from the newly occupied territories — of this, 
later — the taxes give opportunities for profit to capitalist tax-farmers. 

The material implements of war may be part of the equipment pro- 
vided by the army itself, as is the case in pure feudalism. But if these im- 
plements are furnished by the polity, rather than by the army, then ex-., f 
pansion through war and the procurement of armaments to prepare for ' 
war represent by far the most profitable occasion for the raising of loans 
on the largest scale. The profit opportunities of capitalist state creditors 
then increase. Even during the Second Punic War capitalist state credi- 
tors prescribed their own conditions to the Roman polity. 

Where the ultimate state creditors are a mass stratum of state rentiers 
(bondholders), such credits provide profit opportunities for bond-issuing 
banks, as is characteristic of our day. The interests of those who supply 
the materials of war point in the same direction. In all this, economic 
forces interested in the emergence of military conflagrations per se, no 
matter what be the outcome for their own community, are called into 

Aristophanes distinguished between industries interested in war and 
industries interested in peace, although, as is evident from his enumera- 
tion, the center of gravity in his time was still the self-equipped army. 
The individual citizen gave orders to artisans such as the sword-maker 
and the armourer. But even then the large private commercial store- 

1 68 POWER 

houses, often designated as 'factories,' were above all stores of armaments. 

Today the polity as such is almost the sole agent to order war material 
and the engines of war. This enhances the capitalist nature of the 
process. Banks, which finance war loans, and today large sections of 
heavy industry are quand meme economically interested in warfare; the 
direct suppliers of armour plates and guns are not the only ones so 
interested^'A lost war, as well as a successful war, brings increased busi- 
ness to these banks and industries. 

The partners within a polity are politically and economically interested 
in the existence of large home factories for war engines. This interest 
compels them to allow these factories to provide the whole world with 
their products, political opponents included. 

The extent to which the interests of imperialist capitalism are counter- 
balanced depends above all on the profitableness of imperialism as com- 
pared with the capitalist interests of pacifist orientation, in so far as purely 
capitalist motives here play a direct part. And this in turn is closely 
connected with the extent to which economic needs are satisfied by a 
private or a collective economy. The relation between the two is highly 
decisive for the nature of expansive economic tendencies backed up by 
political communities. 

In general and at all times, imperialist capitalism, especially colonial 
booty capitahsm based on direct force and compulsory labor, has offered 
by far the greatest opportunities for profit. They have been greater by far 
than those normally open to industrial enterprises which worked for 
exports and which oriented themselves to peaceful trade with members 
of other polities. Therefore, imperialist capitalism has always existed 
wherever to any relevant degree the polity per se, or its subdivisions 
(municipalities), has engaged in a public collective economy for satisfying 
demands. The stronger such collective economy has been, the more 
important imperialist capitalism has been. 

Increasing opportunities for profit abroad emerge again today, espe- 
cially in territories that are 'opened up' politically and economically, 
that is, brought into the specifically modern forms of public and private 
'enterprise.' These opportunities spring from 'public commissions' of 
arms; from railroad and other construction tasks carried out by the 
polity or by builders endowed with monopoly rights; from monopolist 
organizations for the collection of levies for trade and industry; from 
monopolist concessions; and from government loans. 

Such opportunities for profits may be more important and may be 


gained at the expense of profits from the usual private trade. The more 
that pubhc, collective enterprises gain in economic importance as a gen- 
eral form of supplying needs, the more this preponderance increases. This 
tendency is directly paralleled by the tendency of politically backed eco- 
nomic expansion and competition among individual polities whose part- 
ners control investment capital. They aim at securing for themselves 
such monopolies and shares in public commissions. And the importance 
of the mere 'open door' for the private importation of goods recedes into 
the background. 

The safest way of guaranteeing these monopolized profit opportunities 
to the members of one's own polity is to occupy it or at least to subject 
the foreign political power in the form of a 'protectorate' or some such 
arrangement. Therefore, this\ 'imperiaUst' tendency increasingly displaces 
the 'pacifist' tendency of expansion; which aims merely at 'freedom of 
trade.' The latter gained the upper hand only so long as the organization 
of supply by private capitalism shifted the optimum of capitalist profit 
opportunities towards pacifist trade and not towards monopolist trade, 
or at least trade not monopolized by political power. 

The universal revival of 'imperialist' capitalism, which has always been 
the normal form in which capitalist interests have influenced poHtics, 
and the revival of political drives for expansion are thus not accidental. 
For the predictable future, the prognosis will have to be made in their 

This situation would hardly change fundamentally if for a moment 
we were to make the mental experiment of assuming the individual , ^ 
polities to be somehow 'state-socialist' communities, that is, associations 
supplying a maximum amount of their needs through a collective 
economy. All political associations of such a collective economy would 
seek to buy as cheaply as possible indispensable goods not produced on 
their own territory (cotton in Germany, for instance) from communities 
that have natural monopolies which these communities would seek to 
exploit. It is probable that force would be used where it would lead 
easily to favorable conditions of exchange; the weaker party would 
thereby be obliged to pay tribute, if not formally then at least actually. 
For the rest, one cannot see why the strong state-socialist communities 
should disdain to squeeze tribute out of the weaker communities for 
their own partners where they could do so, just as happened everywhere /Tv 
during early history. 

1 70 POWER 

Economically, in a polity without state-socialism the 'mass' of partners 
need be as little interested in pacifism as is any single stratum. 

The Attic demos— and not they alone— lived economically ofl war. 
War brought them soldiers' pay and, in case of victory, tribute from the 
subjects. This tribute was actually distributed among the full citizens in 
the hardly veiled form of attendance-fees at popular assemblies, court 
hearings, and public festivities. Here, every full citizen could directly 
grasp the interest in imperialist policy and power. Nowadays, the yields 
flowing from abroad to the partners of a polity, including those of im- 
perialist origin and those actually representing 'tribute,' do not result in 
a constellation of interests so comprehensible to the masses. For under 
the present economic order, the tribute to 'creditor nations' assumes the 
form of interest payments on debts or of capital profits transferred from 
abroad to the propertied strata of the 'creditor nation.' Were one to think 
these tributes cancelled for countries like England, France, and Germany, 
it would mean a very palpable decline of purchasing power for home 
products. This would influence the labor market of the respective work- 
ers in an unfavorable manner. 

In spite of this,Tabor in creditor nations is of strongly pacifist mind 
and on the whole shows no interest whatsoever in the continuation and 
compulsory collection of such tributes from foreign debtor communities 
that are in arrears.\ Nor does labor show an interest in forcibly participat- 
ing in the exploitation of foreign colonial territories and in sharing public 
commissions. If this is the case, it is a natural outcome of the immediate 
class situation, on the one hand, and, on the other, of the internal social 
and political situation of communities in a capitalist era. Those entitled 
to tribute belong to the opponent class, who dominate the community. 
Every successful imperialist policy of coercing the outside normally — or 
at least at first — also strengthens the domestic 'prestige' and therewith 
the power and influence of those classes, status groups, and parties, under 
whose leadership the success has been attained. 

In addition to the sources determined by the social and political con- 
stellation, there are economic sources of pacifist sympathy among the 
masses, especially among the proletariat. Every investment of capital in 
the production of war engines and war material creates job and income 
opportunities; every administrative agency may become a factor directly 
contributing to prosperity in a particular case and, even more so, indirectly 
contributing to prosperity by increasing demand and fostering the inten- 
sity of business enterprise. This may become a source of enhanced confi- 


dence in the economic opportunities of the participating industries, which 
may lead to a speculative boom. 

The administration, however, withdraws capital from alternate uses 
and makes it more difficult to satisfy demands in other fields. Above all, 
the means of war are raised by way of levies, which the ruling strata, by 
virtue of their social and political power, usually know how to transfer 
to the masses, quite apart from the limits set to the regimentation of 
property for 'mercantilist' considerations. 

Countries little burdened by military expenses (the United States) and 
especially the small countries (Switzerland, for example) often experience 
a stronger economic expansion than do other Powers. Moreover, occa- 
sionally small countries are more readily admitted to the economic exploi- 
tation of foreign countries because they do not arouse the fear that po- 
litical intervention might follow economic intrusion. 

Experience shows that the pacifet interests of petty bourgeois and pro- 
letarian strata very often and very easily fail. This is partly because of 
the easier accessibility of all unorganized 'masses' to emotional influences 
and partly because of the indefinite notion (which they entertain) of 
some unexpected opportunity somehow arising through war. Specific 
interests, like the hope entertained in overpopulated countries of acquir- 
ing territories for emigration, are, of course, also important in this con- 
nection. Another contributing cause is the fact that the 'masses,' in con- 
trast to other interest-groups, subjectively risk a smaller stake in the game. 
In case of a lost war, the 'monarch' has to fear for his throne, republican 
power-holders and groups having vested interests in a 'republican consti- 
tution' have to fear the victorious 'general.' The majority of the proper- 
tied bourgeoisie have to fear economic loss from the brakes' being placed 
upon 'business as usual.' Under certain circumstances, should disorganiza- 
tion follow defeat, the ruling stratum of notables has to fear a violent 
shift in power in favor of the propertyless. The 'masses' as such, at least 
in their, subjective conception and in the extreme case, have nothing 
concrete to lose but their lives. The valuation and effect of this danger 
strongly fluctuates in their own minds. On the whole, it can easily be 
reduced to zero through emotional influence. 

3: The Nation 

' The fervor cf this emotional influence does not, in the main, have 
an economic origin. It is based upon sentiments of prestige, which often 


172 POWER 

extend deep down to the petty bourgeois masses of political structures 
rich in the historical attainment of power-positions. The attachment to 
all this poHtical prestige may fuse with a specific belief in responsibilty 
towards succeeding generations. The great power structures per se are 
then held to have a responsibility of their own for the way in which 
power and prestige are distributed between their own and foreign polities. 
It goes without saying that all those groups who hold the power to 
steer common conduct within a polity will most strongly instill them- 
selves with this ideal fervor of power prestige. They remain the specific 
and most reliable bearers of the idea of the state as an imperialist power 
structure demanding unqualified devotion. 

/ In addition to the direct and material imperialist interests, discussed 
above, there are partly indirect and material and partly ideological in- 
terests of strata that are in various ways intellectually privileged within 
a polity and, indeed, privileged by its very existence.' They comprise 
especially all those who think of themselves as being the specific 'partners' 
of a specific 'culture' diflfused among the members of the polity. Under 
the influence of these circles, the naked prestige of power' is unavoidably 
transformed into other special fo: ms of prestige and especially into the 
idea of the 'nation.' 

If the concept of 'nation' can in any way be defined unambiguously, it 
certainly cannot be stated in terms of empirical qualities common to those 
who count as members of the nation. In the sense of those using the term 
at a given time, the concept undoubtedly means, above all, that one may 
exact from certain groups of men a specific sentiment of solidarity in the 
face of other groups. Thus, the concept belongs in the sphere of values. 
Yet, there is no agreement on how these groups should be delimited or 
about what concerted action should result from such solidarity. 

In ordinary language, 'nation' is, first of all, not identical with the 
'people of a state,' that is, with the membership of a given polity. Numer- 
ous polities comprise groups among whom the independence of their 
'nation' is emphatically asserted in the face of the other groups; or, on 
the other hand, they comprise parts of a group whose members declare 
this group to be one homogeneous 'nation' (Austria before 1918, for ex- 
ample). Furthermore, a 'nation' is not identical with a community speak- 
ing the same language; that this by no means always suliices is indicated 
by the Serbs and Croats, the North Americans, the Irish, and the English. 
On the contrary, a common language does not seem to be absolutely 


necessary to a 'nation.' In official documents, besides 'Swiss People' one 
also finds the phrase 'Swiss Nation.' And some language groups do not 
think of themselves as a separate 'nation,' for example, at least until re- 
cently, the white Russians. The pretension, however, to be considered a 
special 'nation' is regularly associated with a common language as a cul- 
ture value of the masses; this is predominantly the case in the classic 
country of language conflicts, Austria, and equally so in Russia and in 
eastern Prussia. But this linkage of the common language and 'nation' is 
of varying intensity; for instance, it is very low in the United States'. as 
well as in Canada. 

. 'National' solidarity among men speaking the same language may be 
just as well rejected as accepted. Solidarity, instead, may be linked 
with differences in the other great 'culture value of the masses,' namely, 
a religious creed, as is the case with the Serbs and Croats. National 
solidarity may be connected with differing social structure and mores 
and hence with 'ethnic' elements, as is the case with the German Swiss 
and the Alsatians in the face of the Germans of the Reich, or with the 
Irish facing the British. Yet above all, national solidarity may be linked 
to memories of a common political destiny with other nations, among 
the Alsatians with the French since the revolutionary war which repre- 
sents their common heroic age, just as among the Baltic Barons with the 
Russians whose political destiny they helped to steer. ^' 

It goes without saying that 'national' affiliation need not be based upon 
common blood. Indeed, everywhere the especially radical 'nationalists' 
are often of foreign descent. Furthermore, although a specific common 
anthropological type is not irrelevant to nationality, it is neither sufficient 
nor a prerequisite to found a nation. Nevertheless, the idea of the 'na- 
tion' is apt to include the notions of common descent and of an essen- [ /r -. 
tial, though frequently indefinite, homogeneity. The nation has these no- 
tions in common with the sentiment of solidarity of ethnic communities, 
which is also nourished from various sources. But the sentiment of ethnic 
solidarity does not by itself make a 'nation.' Undoubtedly, even the white 
Russians in the face of the Great Russians have always had a sentiment of 
ethnic solidarity, yet even at the present time they would hardly claim 
to qualify as a separate 'nation.' The Poles of Upper Silesia, until re- 
cently, had hardly any feeling of solidarity with the 'Polish Nation.' They 
felt themselves to be a separate ethnic group in the face of the Germans, 
but for the rest they were Prussian subjects and nothing else. 

Whether the Jews may be called a 'nation' is an old problem. The mass 


174 POWER 

o£ the Russian Jews, the assimilating West-European-American Jews, the 
Zionists — these would in the main give a negative answer. In any case, 
their answers would vary in nature and extent. In particular, the ques- 
tion would be answered very differently by the peoples of their environ- 
ment, for example, by the Russians on the one side and by the Americans 
on the other — or at least by those Americans who at the present time still 
maintain American and Jewish nature to be essentially similar, as an 
American President has asserted in an official document. 

Those German-speaking Alsatians who refuse to belong to the German 
'nation' and who cultivate the memory of political union with France do 
not thereby consider themselves simply as members of the French 'na- 
tion.' The Negroes of the United States, at least at present, consider 
themselves members of the American 'nation,' but they will hardly ever 
be so considered by the Southern Whites. 

Only fifteen years ago, men knowing the Far East, still denied that 
the Chinese qualified as a 'nation'; they held them to be only a 'race.' Yet 
today, not only the Chinese political leaders but also the very same ob- 
servers would judge differently. 'Thus it seems that a group of people 
J under certain conditions may attain the quality of a nation through 
'^'. specific behavior, or they may claim this quality as an 'attainment' — and 
i within short spans of time at that. 

There are, on the other hand, social groups that profess indifference to, 
and even directly relinquish, any evaluational adherence to a single na- 
tion. At the present time, certain leading strata of the class movement of 
the modern proletariat consider such indifference and relinquishment to 
be an accomplishment. Their argument meets with varying success, de- 
pending upon political and linguistic affiliations and also upon different 
strata of the proletariat; on the whole, their success is rather diminishing 
at the present time. 

An unbroken scale of quite varied and highly changeable attitudes to- 
ward the idea of the 'nation' is to be found among social strata and also 
within single groups to whom language usage ascribes the quality of 
'nations.' The scale extends from emphatic affirmation to emphatic nega- 
tion and finally complete indifference, as may be characteristic of the 
citizens of Luxembourg and of nationally 'unawakened' peoples. Feudal 
strata, strata of officials, entrepreneurial bourgeois strata of various cate- 
gories, strata of 'intellectuals' do not have homogeneous or historically 
constant attitudes towards the idea. 

The reasons for the belief that one represents a nation vary greatly, 


just as does the empirical conduct that actually results from affiliation or 
lack of it with a nation. The 'national sentiments' of the German, the 
Englishman, the North American, the Spaniard, the Frenchman, or the 
Russian do not function in an identical manner. Thus, to take only the 
simplest illustration, national sentiment is variously related to political 
associations, and the 'idea' of the nation may become antagonistic to the 
empirical scope of given poUtical associations. This antagonism may lead 
to quite different results. 

Certainly the Italians in the Austrian state-association would fight 
Italian troops only if coerced into doing so. Large portions of the Ger- 
man Austrians would today fight against Germany only with the great- 
est reluctance; they could not be relied upon. The German Americans, 
however, even those valuing their 'nationality' most highly, would fight 
against Germany, not gladly, yet, given the occasion, unconditionally. 
The Poles in the German State would fight readily against a Russian 
Polish army but hardly against an autonomous Polish army. The Austrian 
Serbs would fight against Serbia with very mixed feelings and only in 
the hope of attaining common autonomy. The Russian Poles would fight 
more reliably against a German than against an Austrian army. 
V It is a well-known historical fact that within the same nation the in- 
tensity of solidarity felt toward the outside is changeable and varies 
greatly in strengths On the whole, this sentiment has grown even where 
internal conflicts of interest have not diminished. Only sixty years ago 
the Kreuzzeitung^ still appealed to the intervention of the emperor of 
Russia in internal German affairs; today, in spite of increased class 
antagonism, this would be difficult to imagine. 

In any case, the differences in national sentiment are both significant 
and fluid and, as is the case in all other fields, fundamentally different 
answers are given to the question: What conclusions are a group of 
people willing to draw from the 'national sentiment' found among them } 
No matter how emphatic and subjectively sincere a pathos may be formed 
among them, what sort of specific joint action are they ready to develop.'' 
The extent to which in the diaspora a convention is adhered to as a 
'national' trait varies just as much as does the importance of common 
conventions for the belief in the existence of a separate 'nation.' In the 
face of these value concepts of the 'idea of the nation,' which empirically 
are entirely ambiguous, a sociological typology would have to analyze all 
sorts of community sentiments of solidarity in their genetic conditions 

176 POWER 

and in their consequences for the concerted action of the participants. 
This cannot here be attempted. 
Instead, we shall have to look a little closer into the fact that the 
.^dea of the nation for its advocates stands in very intimate relation to 
'prestige' interests. The earliest and most energetic manifestations of the 
idea, in some form, even though it may have been veiled, have contained 
the legend of a providential 'mission.' Those to whom the representatives 
of the idea zealously turned were expected to shoulder this mission. An- 
other element of the early idea was the notion that this mission was 
facilitated solely through the very cultivation of the peculiarity of the 
group set off as a nation. Therewith, in so far as its self-justification is 
sought in the value of its content, this mission can consistently be 
thought of only as a specific 'culture' mission. The significance of the 
'nation' is usually anchored in the superiority, or at least the irreplaceabil- 
ity, of the culture values that are to be preserved and developed only 
through the cultivation of the peculiarity of the group. It therefore goes 
without saying that the intellectuals, as we have in a preliminary fashion 
called them, are to a specific degree predestined to propagate the 'national 
idea,' just as those who wield power in the polity provoke the idea of 
the state. 

By 'intellectuals' we understand a group of men who by virtue of their 
peculiarity have special access to certain achievements considered to be 
'culture values,' and who therefore usurp the leadership of a 'culture 

community.' ^ 

* * # 

In so far as there is at all a common object lying behind the obviously 
ambiguous term 'nation,' it is apparently located in the field of politics.) 
One might well define the concept of nation in the following way: a 
nation is a community of sentiment which would adequately manifest 
itself in a state of its own; hence, a nation is a community which 
normally tends to produce a state of its own. 

The causal components that lead to the emergence of a national 
sentiment in this sense may vary greatly. If we for once disregard re- 
ligious belief— which has not yet played its last role in this matter, espe- 
cially among Serbs and Croats— then common purely political destinies 
have first to be considered. Under certain conditions, otherwise hetero- 
geneous peoples can be melted together through common destinies. The 
reason for the Alsatians' not feeling themselves as belonging to the 
German nation has to be sought in their memories. Their political 


destiny has taken its course outside the German sphere for too long; 
their heroes are the heroes of French history. If the custodian of the 
Kolmar museum wants to show you which among his treasures he cher- 
ishes most, he takes you away from Griinewald's altar to a room filled 
with tricolors, pompier, and other helmets and souvenirs of a seemingly 
most insignificant nature; they are from a time that to him is a heroic 

An existing state organization whose heroic age is not felt as such 
by the masses can nevertheless be decisive for a powerful sentiment of 
solidarity, in spite of the greatest internal antagonisms. The state is 
valued as the agency that guarantees security, and this is above all the 
case in times of external danger, when sentiments of national solidarity 
flare up, at least intermittently. Thus we have seen how the elements 
of the Austrian state, which apparently strove to separate without re- 
gard for consequences, united during the so-called Nibelung danger." 
It was not only the officials and officers, who were interested in the state 
as such, who could be relied upon, but also the masses of the army. 

The conditions of a further component, namely, the influence of race, 
is especially complex. Here we had better disregard entirely the mystic 
effects of a community of blood, in the sense in which the racial fanati- 
cists use the phrase. The differences among anthropological types are 
but one factor of closure, social attraction, and repulsion. They stand 
with equal right beside differences acquired through tradition. There 
are characteristic differences in these matters. Every Yankee accepts the 
civilized quarter-breed or octoroon Indian as a member of the nation; he 
may himself claim to have Indian blood. But he behaves quite differently 
toward the Negro, and he does so especially when the Negro adopts 
the same way of life as he and therewith develops the same social aspira- 
tions. How can we explain this fact.'' 

Aesthetic aversions may come into play. The 'odor of Negroes,' how- 
ever, of which so many fables are told, is, according to my experience, 
not to be discovered. Black wet-nurses, black coachmen riding shoulder 
to shoulder with the lady steering the cabriolet, and above all, several 
million mixed bloods are all too clear proof against the allegedly natural 
repulsion between these races. This aversion is social in nature, and I 
have heard but one plausible explanation for it: the Negroes have been 
slaves; the Indians have not. 

Of those cultural elements that represent the most important positive 
basis for the formation of national sentiment everywhere, a common 


language takes first place. But even a common language is not entirely 
indispensable nor sufficient by itself. One may state that there was a 
specific Swiss national sentiment in spite of the lack of common lan- 
guage; and, in spite of a common language, the Irish have no common 
national sentiment with the British. The importance of language is neces- 
sarily increasing along with the democratization of state, society, and 
culture. For the masses a common language plays a more decisive eco- 
nomic part than it does for the propertied strata of feudal or bourgeois 
stamp. For these latter, at least in the language areas of an identical cul- 
ture, usually speak the foreign language, whereas the petty bourgeois 
and the proletarian in a foreign language area are much more dependent 
upon cohesion with those speaking the same language. Above all, the 
language, and that means the literature based upon it, is the first and 
for the time being the only cultural value at all accessible to the masses 
who ascend toward participation in culture. The enjoyment of art re- 
quires a far greater degree of education, and art has a far more aristo- 
cratic nature than has literature. This is precisely the case in literature's 
greatest achievements. It is for this reason that the notion held in Austria 
that democratization must soften the language conflicts was so Utopian. 
The facts have, in the meanwhile, thoroughly disproved such notions. 
Common cultural values can provide a unifying national bond. But for 
this the objective quality of the cultural values does not matter at all, and 
therefore one must not conceive of the 'nation' as a 'culture community.' 
\ Newspapers, which certainly do not assemble what is most sublime in 
literary culture, cement the masses most strongly.j Concerning the actual 
social conditions that make for the rise of a unified literary language 
and for a literature in the vernacular, which is something else, all re- 
search is now only in its beginnings. For the case of France, one may 
refer to the essays of my esteemed friend Vossler. 

I should like to point to only one typical supporter of this development, 
because it is one seldom recognized as such, namely, women. They con- 
tributed specifically to the formation of national sentiment linked to 
language. An erotic lyric addressed to a woman can hardly be written 
in a foreign language, because then it would be unintelligible to the ad- 
dressee. The courtly and chivalrous lyric was neither singular, nor always 
the first literature to displace Latin by the national language, as happened 
in France, Italy, Germany, or to displace Chinese, as happened in Japan. 
Nevertheless, the courtly lyric has frequently and permanently done so, 
and has subHmated national languages into literary languages. I cannot 


here describe how after this initial displacement the importance of the 
vernacular steadily progressed under the influence of the broadening 
administrative tasks of state and church, hence as the language of ad- 
ministration and of the sermon. I may, however, add one more word 
about the economic determination of modern language conflicts. 

Today quite considerable pecuniary and capitalist interests are 
anchored in the maintenance and cultivation of the popular language: 
the interests of the publishers, editors, authors, and the contributors to 
books and periodicals and, above all, to newspapers. Once Polish and 
Latvian newspapers existed, the language fight conducted by govern- 
ments or ruling strata of another language community had become as 
good as hopeless, for reasons of state are powerless against these forces. 
And to the interests in profits of the capitalist another material interest 
of great weight has to be added: the bilingual candidates in competing 
for office throw their bilingualism into the balance and seek to lay claim 
upon as large an area of patronage as possible. This occurred among 
the Czechs in Austria with their surplus of intellectual proletariat bred 
en masse. The tendency as such is old. 

The conciliar, and at the same time nationalist, reaction against the 
universalism of the papacy in the waning Middle Ages had its origin, 
to a great extent, in the interests of the intellectuals who wished to see 
the prebends of their own country reserved for themselves and not occu- 
pied by strangers via Rome. After all, the name natio as a legal concept 
for an organized community is found first at the universities and at the 
reform councils of the church. At that time, however, the linkage to the 
national language per se was lacking; this linkage, for the reasons stated, 
is specifically modern. 

If one believes that it is at all expedient to distinguish national senti- 
ment as something homogeneous and specifically set apart, one can do 
so only by referring to a tendency toward an autonomous state. And one 
must be clearly aware of the fact that «entiments of solidarity, very 
heterogeneous in both their nature and their origin, are comprised within 
national sentiments. 

V II. Class, otatus, x arty^ 

i: Economically Determined Power and the Social Order 

Law exists when there is a probabiHty that an order will be upheld by a 
specific staff of men who will use physical or psychical compulsion with 
the intention of obtaining conformity with the order, or of inflicting 
sanctions for infringement of it.^ The structure of every legal order di- 
rprflT,rinfliipnrf^ '^hp divt rilvnlnn nf ppw^'-j economic or Otherwise, within 
its respective community. This is true of all legal orders and not only 
that of the state. In ge neral, we understand by 'powe r* the chance of a 
man or o f a number of jueiL-t o realize t heir own will in a communal 
action even_agaigsL-tl*e-^esisI;ance_of others w ho are part icipating in the 

'Economically conditioned' power is not, of course, identical with 
'power' as such. On the contrary, the emergence of economic power may 
be the consequence of power existing on other grounds. Man does not 
strive for power only in order to enrich himself economically. Power, 
including economic power, may be valued 'for its own sake.' Very fre- 
quently the striving for power is also conditioned by the social 'honor' 
it entails. Not all power, however, entails social honor : The typical Amer- 
ican Boss, as well as the typical big speculator, deliberately relinquishes 
social honor. Quite generally, 'mere economic' power, and especially 
'naked' money power, is by no means a recognized basis of social 
honor. Nor is power the only basis of social honor. Indeed, social honor, 
or prestige, may even be the basis of political or economic power, and 
very frequently has been. Power, as well as honor, may be guaranteed by 
the legal order, but, at least normally, it is not their primary source. The 

*Wirtschnjt and Gesellschaft, part iii, chap. 4, pp. 631-40. The first sentence in para- 
graph one and the several definitions in this chapter which are in brackets do not appear 
in the original text. They have been taken from other contexts of Wirtschajt und Gesell- 



fe gal order is rather an additional factor jhatj£jaliaiices^the_c hance to hold 
pnwer_ or hon or; but it cannot always secure thernJ__ 

The way in whicK social honor is distributed in a community between 
typical groij0 ~particij3ating intHis'llTsrribution^'weTnay^afrthe^^S&ci^ 
order.' The social order and the economic order are, of course, similarly 
related to the 'legal order.' However, the social and the economic order 

I are not identical. The economic order is for us fnerely the way In which 
econorflic^goods and services are distributed and used. The social order is 
of course conditioned by the economic order to a high degree, and in its 

' turn reacts upon it. 

' Now: 'class es,' 'status ffloups,' an d 'parties' are phenomena of the dis- 

[ trib ution of power within a com munity. 

2; Determination of Class-Situation by Market-Situation 

In our terminology, 'classes' are not communities; they merely repre- 
sent possible, and frequent, bases for communal action. We may speak 
of a 'classlwhen (i) o-iiu mber of people JiavLejn common _a^specific causal 
com ponent o f their life chances, in so far as (2) this component_is_r£pre- 
sented exclusively by economic interests in the possession of^opds _and 
opportunities for income, andr^3} is represented ulider the conditions of 
the_£ommodity or labor markets. [These points refer to 'class situation,' 
which we~may~express more briefly as the^tygkaj ^ chance fQL J-.-JlJ'PP^y 
oi_gpodS j ext ernal living conditions. and_g ersonal lif ^ fyppripHrpy, m- so 
far as this chance is determined by the amount and kind oJ^oweTjOr 
lack of su cb^tQjdispose of goods or skills for the jake of jncome in a given 
€concuiiic_iu:der-. The term 'class' refers to any group of people that is^ 
found in the same class situation.] 

It is the most elemental economic fact that the way in which the dis- 
position over material property is distributed among a plurality of people, 
meeting competitively in the market for the purpose of exchange, in itself 
creates specific life chances. According to the law of marginal utility this 
mode o£ distribution excludes the non-a\vners from competing for highly 
valued goods; it favors the owners and, in fact, gives to them a monopoly 
to acquire such goods. Other things being equal, this mode of distribu- 
tion monopolizes the opportunities for profitable deals for all those who, 
provided with goods, do not necessarily have to exchange them. It in- 
creases, at least generally, their power in price wars with those who, being 
propertyless, have nothing to offer but their services in native form or 


1 82 



goods in a form constituted through their own labor, and who above all 
are compelled to get rid of these products in order barely to subsist. 
This mode of d istribution gives to t he_ propertied a m onopoly on ^he 
*^6sslbility'31ra^fonng propert}^Jrom the sphere of use as a 'fortune,' 
-roTKejpKere^f 'capital goods'; that is, it give s them t he en trepreneurial 
iunction and all ch ances to share direcdy or indirectl yjn_returns on capi- 
talTAirtliis holds true within the area in which pure market condition? 
fcfprevail.- ' Property' and 'lack of property' are, there fore, the basic cate- 
~ m gories of a ll class situations ! iFdoes not matter whether these two cate- 
gories become effective in price wars or in competitive struggles. 

Within these categorie s, hov(^ever^__d ass situation s are further difiFer- 
enriated:^on_the_o ne handT acco r ding to the kind of prope rty that is us- 
aEle^for returns; and, o n the other hand, according to the kind of services 
tHaTcan beoffered in the market. Ownership of domestic buildings; pro- 
ductiVe- ciLabhAhinuiLl>; "wafehouses; stores; agriculturally usable land, 
large and small holdings — quantitative differences with possibly qualita- 
tive consequences — ; ownership of mines; cattle; men (slaves); disposi- 
tion over mobile instruments of production, or capital goods of all sorts, 
especially money or objects that can be exchanged for money easily and 
at any time; disposition over products of one's own labor or of others' 
labor differing according to their various distances from consumability; 
disposition over transferable monopolies of any kind — all these distinc- 
tions differentiate the class situations of the propertied just as does^he 
' meani ng^ which [ hey can and do give to the~ utihzation ^f~property, 
especiall}r~to property which has moliey equivalence. Accordingly, the 
^propertied, for instance, may belong to the class of rentiers or to the 
class of entrepreneurs. 

Those who have no property but who of^er services ar e_ differentiat ^d^_ 
just a s mucti accordmg to their kinds of services as according to the wa y 
in which they make use of these services, in a continuous or discontinu- 
ous relation to a recipient. But always this is the generic connotation of 
the concept of class: that the kind of chance in the marf^et is the decisive 
moment which presents a common condition for the individual's fate. 
'Class situation' is. m _this se nse, ultimately 'market situation.' The effect 
of naked possession per j-e, which among cattle~br'eeders gives the non- 
owmrig slave^oFlefrihto the power of the cattle owner, is only a fore- 
runner of real 'class' formation. However, in the cattle loan and in the 
naked severity of the law of debts in such communities, for the first time 
mere ^ossession' as such emerges as decisive for the fate of the indi- 


vidual. This is very much in contrast to the agricultural communities 
based on labor. The creditor-debtor relation becomes the basis of 'class 
situations' only in those cities where a 'credit market,' however primi- 
tive, with rates of interest increasing according to the extent of dearth 
and a factual monopolization of credits, is developed by a plutocracy. 
Therewith 'class struggles' begin. 

Those men whose fate is not determined by the chance of using goods 
or services for themselves on the market, e.g. slaves, are not, however, a 
'class' in the technical sense of the term. They are, rather, a 'status group.' 

\/ 3: Communal Action Flowing from Class Interest 

Acc or ding to our terminology, the factor that creates 'class' is unam- 
biguously economic interest, and indeed, only those interests involved 
irrtTie~existence of the 'market.' Nevertheless, the concept of 'class-interest' 

is an ambiguous one: even as an empirical concept it is ambiguous as 
soon as one urid^e'rstands by it something other than the factual direction 
of interests following with a certain probability from the class situation 
for a certain 'average' of those people subjected to the class situation. The 
class situation and other circumstances remaining the same, the direction 
in which the individual worker, for instance, is likely to pursue his in- 
terests may vary widely, according to whether he is constitutionally quali- 
fied for the task at hand to a high, to an average, or to a low degree. 
In the same way, the direction of interests may vary according to 
whether or not a communal action of a larger or smaller portion of those 
. comm©nly-a£fe£ted by the 'class sittrationr-or-even-^n association among 
them, e.g. a 'trade union,' has grown out of the class situation from which 
the individual may or may not expect promising results. [Communal 
action jefers to that action which is oriented to the feeling of the actors 
that they belong together. Societal action, on the other hand, is oriented 
to a rationaliy-Uiotivated adjustment of interests.;] The rise of societal or 
even of co mmunal ac t ion fromj^common rlasssitnatinn is by no mean s 
a universal phenomenon. 

le class situation may be restricted in its effects to the generation of 
essentially similar reactions, that is to say, within our terminology, of 'mass 
actions.' However, it may not have even this result. Furthermore, often 
merely an amorphous communal action emerges. For example, the 'mur- 
muring' of the workers known in ancient oriental ethics : the moral disap- 
proval of the work-master's conduct, which in its practical significance was 

184 POWER 

probably equivalent to an increasingly typical phenomenon of precisely the 
latest industrial development, namely, the 'slow down' (the deliberate lim- 
iting of work effort) of laborers by virtue of tacit agreement. The degreejn 
which 'communaLaction^^and poss ibly 'societal action,' emei- ggT^^om^the 
'mass actions' of the members of a class is linked to general cultural con- 
dTttons, especialty to those"of 'aiTtntellectual sor t. It Ts~also~niiked"T o"t1ie 
'extent of the xcnitra gs-"ThM"^ £ve^~atreaH>r^olved, and is especially 
linked tolhe transparency ofjthe connections between the cause s an^jKe 
consequences'oFme 'class situation.'. For however different life chances 
may be, this fact in itself, according to all experience^ by no jneans^ives 
birthjQ-£lass-a€tion' (communal^actioirbjrthe members of a class). The 
fact of being conditioned and the results of the class situation must be 
distinctly recognizable. For only then the contrast of life chances can be 
felt not as an absolutely given fact to be accepted, but as a resultant from 
either (i) the given distribution of property, or (2) the structure of 
the concrete economic order. It is only then that people may react against 
the class structure not only through acts of an intermittent and irrational 
protest, but in the form of rational association. There have been 'class 
situations' of the first category (i), of a specifically naked and transparent 
sort, in the urban centers of Antiquity and during the Middle Ages; espe- 
cially then, when great fortunes were accumulated by factually monopo- 
lized trading in industrial products of these localities or in foodstuffs. 
Furthermore, under certain circumstances, in the rural economy of the 
most diverse periods, when agriculture was increasingly exploited in a 
profit-making manner. The most important historical example of the 
second category (2) is the class situation of the modern 'proletariat.' 

4: Types of 'Class Struggle' 

Thus every class may be the carrier of any one of the possibly in- 
numerable forms of 'class action,' but this is not necessarily so. In any 
case, a class does not in itself constitute a community. To treat 'class' 
conceptually as having" the same value as 'community' leads to distor- 
tion. That men in the same class situation regularly react in mass actions 
to such tangible situations as economic ones in the direction of those 
interests that are most adequate to their average number is an important 
and after all simple fact for the understanding of historical events. Above 
all, this fact must not lead to that kind of pseudo-scientific operation with 
the concepts of 'class' and 'class interests' so frequently found these days. 


and which has found its most classic expression in the statement of a tal- 
ented author, that the individual may be in error concerning his interests 
but that the 'class' is 'infallible' about its interests. Yet, if classesassuch 
are not communities, nevertheless class situations emerge only on the 
basis~of'co mmunaliza ^ on. The commun al action that brings forth class 
situations, how^ever, is noj_ basically action be t we en membefs~6f~the 
identical class; it is an action between members of different classes. Com- 
munal actions that directly determine the class situation of the worker 
and-tbe entrepreneur are: t he labor market, the commodities rnarket, 
and the capitalistic enterprise. But, in its turn, the existence of a capital- 
istic enterprise presupposes that a very specific communal action exists 
and that it is specifically structured to protect the possession of goods 
per se, and especially the power of individuals to dispose, in principle 
freely, over the means of production. The existence of a capitalistic enter- 
prise is preconditioned by a specific kind of 'legal order.' Each kind of j 
class situation, and above all when it rests upon the power of property 
per se, will become most clearly efficacious when all other determinants 
of reciprocal relations are, as far as possible, eliminated in their signifi- 
cance. It is in this way that the utilization of the power of property in the 
market obtains its most sovereign importance. 

Now 'status groups' hinder the strict carrying through of the sheer 
market princ ipleT In the present context they are of interest to us only 
from this one point of view. Before we briefly consider them, note that 
not much of a general nature can be said about the more specific kinds 
of antagonism between 'classes' (in our meaning of the term). The great 
shift, which has been going on continuously in the past, and up to our 
times, may be summarized, although at the cost of some precision: the 
struggle in which class situations are effective has progressively shifted 
from consumption credit toward, first, competitive struggles in the com- 
modity market and, then, toward price wars on the labor market.] The 
'class struggles' of antiquity — to the extent that they were genuine class 
struggles and not struggles between status groups — were initially carried 
on by indebted peasants, and perhaps also by artisans threatened by debt 
bondage and struggling against urban creditors. For debt bondage is the j 
normal result of the differentiation of wealth in commercial cities, espe- 
cially in seaport cities. A similar situation has existed among cattle 
breeders. Debt relationships as such produced class action up to the time 
of Cataline. Along with this, and with an increase in provision of grain 
for the city by transporting it from the outside, the struggle over the 

l86 POWER 

means of sustenance emerged. It centered in the first place around the 
provision of bread and the determination of the price of bread. It lasted 
throughout antiquity and the entire Middle Ages. The propertyless as 
such flocked together against those who actually and supposedly were 
interested in the dearth of bread. This fight spread until it involved all 
those commodities essential to the way of life and to handicraft produc- 
tion. There were only incipient discussions of wage disputes in antiquity 
and in the Middle Ages. But they have been slowly increasing up into 
modern times. In the earlier periods they were completely secondary to 
slave rebellions as well as to fights in the commodity market. 

The propertyless of antiquity and of the Middle Ages protested against 
monopolies, pre-emption, forestalling, and the withholding of goods from 
the market in order to raise prices. Today the central issue is the deter- 
mination of the price of labor. 

This transition is represented by the fight for access to the market 
and for the determination of the price of products. Such fights went on 
between merchants and workers in the putting-out system of domestic 
handicraft during the transition to modern times. Since it is quite a gen- 
eral phenomenon we must mention here that the class antagonisms that 
are conditioned through the market situation are usually most bitter 
between those who actually and directly participate as opponents in price 
wars. It is not the rentier, the share-holder, and the banker who suffer 
the ill will of the worker, but almost exclusively the manufacturer and 
the business executives who are the direct opponents of workers in price 
wars. This is so in spite of the fact that it is precisely the cash boxes of 
the rentier, the share-holder, and the banker into which the more or less 
'unearned' gains flow, rather than into the pockets of the manufacturers 
or of the business executives. This simple state of affairs has very fre- 
quently been decisive for the role the class situation has played in the 
formation of political parties. For example, it has made^ possible the 
varieties of patriarchal socialism and the frequent attemptJ-^formerly, at 
least — of threatened status groups to form alliances with the proletariat 
against the 'bourgeoisie.' 

5: Status Honor 

Nii' In contrast to classes, status groups ar e normally communities. They 
are, however, often "of an amorphous kind. In contrast to the purely 
economically determined 'class situation' we wish to designate as 'status 



situat ion' everY jypical component ,Q£,th.£, life fate of men jhat Js deter- 
mined by a specific, positive^oiuiegative, social estimation of honor. This 
honor rnay^be connected with any quaHty shared by a pluraHty, and, of 
course, it can be knit to a class situation: class distinctions are linked in 
the most varied ways with status distinctions. Property as such is not al- 
ways recognized as a status qualification, but in the long run it is, and 
with extraordinary regularity. In the subsistence economy of the organ- 
ized neighborhood, very often the richest man is simply the chieftain. 
However, this often means only an honorific preference. For example, 
in the so-called pure modern 'democracy,' that is, one devoid of any ex- 
pressly ordered status privileges for individuals, it may be that only the 
families coming under approximately the same tax class dance with one 
another. This example is reported of certain smaller Swiss cities. But 
status honor need not necessarily be linked with a 'class situation.' On the 

contrary, it n orma ITv~ sta nds, in sharp nppoa 'tinn to the pretensions^ 
she er pr operty. 

Both propertied and propertyless people can belong to the same 
status group, and frequently they do with very tangible consequences. 
This 'equality' of social esteem may, however, in the long run become 
quite precarious. The 'equality' of status among the American 'gentle- 
men,' for instance, is expressed by the fact that outside the subordination 
determined by the different functions of 'business,' it would be considered 
strictly repugnant — wherever the old tradition still prevails — if even the 
richest 'chief,' while playing billiards or cards in his club in the evening, 
would not treat his 'clerk' as in every sense fully his equal in birthright. 
It would be repugnant if the American 'chief would bestow upon his 
'clerk' the condescending 'benevolence' marking a distinction of 'posi- 
tion,' which the Gerrpan chief can never dissever from his attitude. This 
is one of the most important reasons why in America the German 
'clubby-ness' has never been able to attain the attraction that the Ameri- 
can clubs have. 

6: Guarantees of Status Stratification 

Ig^content, status honor is normall y expressed by the fact_that_above_ 
all else a specific style of life can be expected tfom all tKose who wish to 
belong to the circlerLirilced with this expectatioiT~are "restrictions on 
'social!, intercourse (that is, intercourse which is not subservient to eco- 
nomic or any other of business's 'functional' purposes). These restric- 


tions may confine normal marriages to within the status circle and may 
lead to complete endogamous closure. As soon as there is not a mere 
individual and socially irrelevant imitation of another style of hfe, but an 
agreed-upon communa l action of th is closing character, the 'status' de- 
Velopmgit2_.under way. 

In its characteristic form, stratification by 'status groups' on the basis 
of conventional styles of life evolves at the present time in the United 
States out of the traditional democracy. For example, only the resident 
of a certain street ('the street') is considered as belonging to 'society,' 
is qualified for social intercourse, and is visited and invited. Above all, 
this differentiation evolves in such a way as to make for strict submis- 
sion to the fashion that is dominant at a given time in society. This sub- 
mission to fashion also exists among men in America to a degree un- 
known in Germany. Such submission is considered to be an indication 
/V of the fact that a given man pretends to qualify as a gentleman. This sub- 

mission decides, at least prima facie, that he will be treated as such. And 
this recognition becomes just as important for his employment chances 
in 'swank' establishments, and above all, for social intercourse and mar- 
riage with 'esteemed' families, as the qualification for dueling among 
Germans in the Kaiser's day. As for the rest : certain families resident for 
a long time, and, of course, correspondingly wealthy, e.g. 'F. F. V., i.e. 
First Families of Virginia,' or the actual or alleged descendants of the 
'Indian Princess' Pocahontas, of the Pilgrim fathers, or of the Knicker- 
bockers, the members of almost inaccessible sects and all sorts of circles 
setting themselves apart by means of any other characteristics and 
badges ... all these elements usurp 'status' honor. yThe development of 
A A\ status is essentially a question of stratification resting upon usurpation. 
Such usurpation is the normal origin of almost all status honor. But the 
road from this purely conventional situation to legal privilege, positive 
, or negative, is easily traveled as soon as a certain stratification of the 
social order has in fact been 'lived in' and has achieved stability by virtue 
of a stable distribution of economic pov»'er. 

7: 'Ethnic' Segregation and 'Caste' 

I Where the consequences have been realized to their full extent, the 

I status group evolves into a closed 'caste.' Status distinctions are then 

I guaranteed not merely by conventions and laws, but also by rituals. This 

occurs in such a way that every physical contact with a member of any 


caste that is considered to be 'lower' by the members of a 'higher' caste is 
considered as making for a rituahstic impurity and to be a stigma which 
must be expiated by a rehgious act. Individual castes develop quite dis- 
tinct cults and gods. 

V In general, however, the status structure reaches such extreme conse- 
quences only where there are underlying differences which are held to 
be 'ethnic' The 'caste' is, indeed, the normal form in which ethnic com- 
munities usually live side by side in a 'societalized' manner. These ethnic 
communities believe in blood relationship and exclude exogamous mar- 
riage and social intercourse. Such a caste situation is part of the phe- 
nomenon of 'pariah' peoples and is found all over the world. These people 
form communities, acquire specific occupational traditions of handicrafts 
or of other arts, and cultivate a belief in their ethnic community. They 
live in a 'diaspora' strictly segregated from all personal intercourse, ex- 
cept that of an unavoidable sort, and their situation is legally precarious. 
Yet, by virtue of their economic indispensability, they are tolerated, in- 
deed, frequently privileged, and they live in interspersed political com- 
munities. The Jews are the most impressive historical example. 

A 'status' segregation grown into a 'caste' diiJers in its structure from 
a mere 'ethnic' segregation: the caste structure transforms the horizontal 
and unconnected coexistences of ethnically segregated groups into a verti- 
cal social system of super- and subordination. Correctly formulated: a 
comprehensive societalization integrates the ethnically divided communi- 
ties into specific political and communal action. In their consequences 
they differ precisely in this way./tihmc coexistences condition a mutual 
repulsion and disdain but allow each ethnic community to consider its 
own honor as the highest one; the caste structure brings about a social 
subordination and an acknowledgment of 'more honor' in favor of the 
privileged caste and status groups. This is due to the fact that in the 
caste structure ethnic distinctions as such have become 'functional' dis- 
tinctions within the political societalization (warriors, priests, artisans 
that are politically important for war and for building, and so on). But 
even pariah people who are most despised are usually apt to continue 
cultivating in some manner that which is equally peculiar to ethnic and 
to status communities: the belief in their own specific 'honor.' This is 
the case with the Jews. 

i, Only with the negatively privileged status groups does the 'sense of 
dignity' take a specific deviation. A sense of dignity is the precipitation 
in individuals of social honor and of conventional demands which a 

1 00 POWER 

positively privileged status group raises for the deportment of its mem- 
bers. X he sense of d ignity thft rhnrprfprJT-pg pn<;i>ivp]y privileged status 
groups is naturally related to their 'being' which does not transcend itself, 
that is, it is to their 'beauty and excellence' (xaAo->cdYa'&ia),jrheirJ^ing- 
dorn is 'of this wo rld.' They live for the p resent and hj exploiting their 
great past. The sense of dignity of the negatively privileged strata natu- 
rally- fcfcrs to afo g^ejpag-heyondiitfae" present, whether it is of this life 
or oT^another] In other words, it must be nurtured by the belief in a 
^pTrvidential 'mission' and by a belief in a specific honor before God. 
The 'chosen people's' dignity is nurtured by a belief either that in the 
beyond 'the last will be the first,' or that in this life a Messiah will appear 
to bring forth into the light of the world which has cast them out the 
hidden honor of the pariah people. This simple state of affairs, and not 
the 'resentment' which is so strongly emphasized in Nietzsche's much 
admired construction in the Genealogy cf Morals, is the source of the 
religiosity cultivated by pariah status groups. In passing, we may note 
that resentment may be accurately applied only to a limited extent; for 
one of Nietzsche's main examples, Buddhism, it is not at all applicable. 
/Incidentally, the development of status groups from ethnic segrega- 
tions is by no means the normal phenomenon. On the contrary, since 
objective 'racial differences' are by no means basic to every subjective 
sentiment of an ethnic community, the ultimately racial foundation of 
status structure is rightly and absolutely a question of the concrete indi- 
vidual case. Very frequently a status group is instrumental in thepro- 
duction of a thoroughbred anthfopolc^atType. tl!ertainly a status group 
is to aKigndegree effective in producing extreme types, for they select 
personally qualified individuals (e.g. the Knighthood selects those who 
are fit for warfare, physically and psychically). But selection is far from 
being the only, or the predominant, way in which status groups are 
formed: Political membership or class situation has at all times been at 
J least as frequendy decisive. And today the class situation is by far 
the predominant factor, for of course the possibility of a style of hfe 
expected for members of a status group is usually conditione'd eco- 

8: Status Privileges 

For all practical purposes, stratification by status goes hand in hand 

i^ witb-ajnono polization of idealand ~mareml--g oods or opportunities; in a 

manner we have come to know as typical. Besides the specific status 


honor, which always rests upon distance and exclusiveness, we find all \/** 
sorts of material monopolies. Such honorific preferences may consist 
of the privilege of wearing special costumes, of eating special dishes 
taboo to others, of carrying arms — which is most obvious in its conse- 
quences — the right to pursue certain non-professional dilettante artistic 
practices, e.g. to play certain musical instruments. Of course, material 
monopolies provide the most effective motives for the exclusiveness of a 
status group; although, in themselves, they are rarely sufficient, almost 
always they come into play to some extent. Within a status circle there 
is the question of intermarriage: the interest of the families in the 
monopolization of potential bridegrooms is at least of equal importance 
and is parallel to the interest in the monopolization of daughters. The 
daughters of the circle must be provided for. With an increased inclosure 
of the status group, the conventional preferential opportunities for special 
employment grow into a legal monopoly of special offices for the mem- 
bers. Certain goods become objects for monopolization by status groups. 
In the typical fashion these include 'entailed estates' and frequently also 
the possessions of serfs or bondsmen and, finally, special trades. This 
monopolization occurs positively when the status group is exclusively en- 
titled to own and to manage them; and negatively when, in order to 
maintain its specific way of life, the status group must not own and 
manage them. 

i^Qi^ decisive role of a 'st yle of life' in status 'honor' means that status 
groups are the specific bearers^jaf _aliJcpnventions.' In^wEatever way it i 
may be manifest, all 'stylization' of life either originates in status groups 1 
or is at least conserved by them. Even if the principles of status conven- 
tions differ greatly, they reveal cer tain typic al traits, especially among 
those strata which are most privileged. Quite generally, among privileged 
status groups there is a status disqualification that operates against the 
performance of common physical labor. This disqualification is now 
'setting in' in America against the old tradition of esteem for labor. 
Very frequently every rational economic pursuit, and especially 'entre- 
preneurial activity,' is looked upon as a disqualification of status. Artistic 
and literary activity is also considered as degrading work as soon as it is 
exploited for income, or at least when it is connected with hard physical 
exertion. An example is the sculptor working like a mason in his dusty 
smock as over against the painter in his salon-like 'studio' and those 
forms of musical practice that are acceptable to the status group. 

192 POWER 

9: Economic Conditions and Effects of Status Stratification 

The frequent disqualification of the gainfully employed as such is a 
direct result of the principle of status stratification peculiar to the social 
order, and of course, of this principle's opposition to a distribution of 
power which is regulated exclusively through the market. These two 
factors operate along with various individual ones, which will be touched 
upon below. 

We have seen above that the market and its processes 'knows no per- 
sonal distinctions': 'functional' interests dominate it. It knows nothing 
of 'honor.' The status order means precisely the reverse, viz.: stratifica- 
tion in terms of 'honor' and of styles^_life peculiar tOL-Status g roups as 
such. If mere economic acquisition and naked economic power still 
bearing the stigma of its extra-status origin could bestow upon anyone 
who has won it the same honor as those who are interested in status by 
virtue of style of life claim for themselves, the status order would be 
threatened at its very root. This is the more so as, given equality of status 
honor, property per se represents an addition even if it is not overtly 
acknowledged to be such. Yet if such economic acquisition and power 
gave the agent any honor at all, his wealth would result in his attaining 
more hqnor than those who successfully claim honor by virtue of style 
of life. (Therefore all groups having interests ^n the stajtus^prder react 
(.with special sKarpness precisely against the pretensions of p urely eco - 
""Sylnnrnic arqiiisitinn- In most cases they react the more vigorously the 
more they feel themselves threatened. Calderon's respectful treatment of 
the peasant, for instance, as opposed to Shakespeare's simultaneous and 
ostensible disdain of the canaille illustrates the different way in which 
a firmly structured status order reacts as compared with a status order 
that has become economically precarious. This is an example of a state 
of affairs that recurs everywhere. Precisely because of the rigorous reac- 
tions against the claims of property per se, the 'parvenu' is never ac- 
cepted, personally and without reservation, by the privileged status 
groups, no matter how completely his sty le of life has been adjusted to 
theirs. They wiU^only^ accept Jiis descendants who have been edii cated. 
in the conventions of theit. status group and_wEo~havejieYer_besmirched 
itsjignor by their own economic labor. 
I As to the general e^ect^ of the status order, only one consequence can 
/ be stated, but it is a very important one: the hindrance of the free de- 


velopment of the market occurs^ first for those goods which status groups 
directly w ithhel3"troiTrfree exchange by monopohzation. This monopoH- 
zation may be effected eithTfiegaMy- or con vc ntionallyT ^W example, in 
many Hellenic cities during the epoch of status groups, and also originally 
in Rome, the inherited estate (as is shown by the old formula for indic- 
tion against spendthrifts) was monopolized just as were the estates of 
knights, peasants, priests, and especially the clientele of the craft and 
merchant guilds. The market is restricted, and the power of naked prop- 
erty per se, which gives its stamp to 'class formation,' is pushed into the 
background. The results of this process can be most varied. Of course, 
they do not necessarily weaken the contrasts in the economic situation. 
Frequently they strengthen these contrasts, and in any case, where strati- 
fication by status permeates a community as strongly as was the case 
in all political communities of antiquity and of the Middle Ages, one can 
never speak of a genuinely free market competition as we understand 
it today. There are wider effects than this direct exclusion of special 
goods from the market. From the contrariety between the status order 
and the purely economic order mentioned above, it follows that in 
most instances the notion of honor peculiar to status absolutely 
abhors that which is essential to the market: higgling. Honor abhors 
higgling among peers and occasionally it taboos higgling for the mem- 
bers of a status group in general. Therefore, everywhere some status 
groups, and usually the most influential, consider almost any kind of 
overt participation in economic acquisition as absolutely stigmatizing. 

Wit h some over-simplifica tion, one might thus say that 'classes' are 
stratified according to their relations to the production and acquisition 
of goods; whereas 'status groups' are stratified accordmg to the principles 
of^_t heir consu mption of goods as represented by special 'styles of life.' 

An 'occupational group' is also a status group. For normally, it"success- 
fully claims social honor only by virtue of the special style of life which 
may be determined by it. The differences between classes and status 
groups frequently overlap. It is precisely those status communities most 
strictly segregated in terms of honor (viz. the Indian castes) who today 
show, although within very rigid limits, a relatively high degree of in- 
difference to pecuniary income. However, the Brahmins seek such in- 
come in many different ways. 

As to the general economic conditions making for the predominance 
of stratification by 'status,' only very little can be said. When the bases of 
the acquisition and distribution of goods are relatively stable, stratifica- 

194 POWER 

tion by status is favored. Every technological repercussion and economic 
transformation threatens stratification by status and pushes the class situ- 
ation into the foreground. Epochs and countries in which the naked class 
J \ ; , situation is of predominant significance are regularly the periods of tech- 
nical and economic transformations. And every slowing down of the 
shifting of economic stratifications leads, in due course, to the growth of 
status structures and makes for a resuscitation of the important role of 
social honor. 

id: Parties 

Whereas the genuine place of 'classes' is within the economic order, the 
place of 'status groups' is within the social order, that is, within the 
sphere of the distribution of 'honor.' From within these spheres, classes 
and status groups influence one another and they influence the legal order 
and are in turn influenced by it. But ('parties' live in a house of 'power,' 

Their action is oriented towar d the acquIsitIo n25f~^cral 'power,' that 
is to say, toward influencing a communal action no matte r what its con - 
tent-Diay^be. In principle, parties may exist in a sociaF^lub' as well as 
in a 'state.' As over against the actions of classes and status groups, for 
which this is not necessarily the case, the communal actions of 'parties' 
always mean a societalization. For party actions are, always' directed to- 
ward a goal which is striven for in planned manner. This goal may be a 
'cause' (the party may aim at reahzing a program for ideal or material 
purposes), or the goal may be 'personal' (sinecures, power, and from 
these, honor for the leader and the followers of the party). Usually 
the party action aims at all these simultaneously. Parties are, therefore, 
only^possible within communities^jthaL_5ie societal i zed, that is, whicli 
have some rational order and a staff of persons available_w ho are r eady 
to cnlorce it. For parties aj m precisel y at influ encin g this staf^j, and if pos- 
siblcj to^recruit it from party followers. 

In any individuar~case7~partTesmay represent interests determined 
through 'class situation' or 'status situation,' and they may recruit their 
following respectively from one or the other. But they need be neither 
purely 'class' nor purely 'status' parties. In most cases they are partly 
class parties and partly status parties, but sometimes they are neither. 
They may represent ephemeral or enduring structures. Their means of 
attaining power may be quite varied, ranging from naked violence of 
^ny sort to can vassmg tor^yotes with c oarse or subtTe~means: money, 
social influence, the force of speech, suggestion, clumsy hoax, and so on to 


the rougher or more artful tactics of obstruction in parHamentary 

The sociological structure of parties differs in a basic way according to 
the kind of communal actioir~which they struggle to influenceTPaiTi'es 
also differ according to whether or not the community is stratified by 
status or by classes. Above all else, they (vary according to the structure U/%-. 
of domination within the community. For their leaders normally deal 
with the conquest of a community. They are, in the general concept 
which is maintained here, not only products of specially modern forms 
of domination. We shall also designate as parties the ancient and me- 
dieval 'parties,' despite the fact that their structure differs basically from 
the structure of modern parties. By virtue of these structural differences 
of domination it is impossible to say anything about the structure of 
parties without discussing the structural forms of social domination 
per se. Parties, which are always structures struggling for domination, 
are very frequently organized in a very strict 'authoritarian' fashion. . . 
/Concerning 'classes,' 'status groups,' and 'parties,' it must be said in 
general that they necessarily presuppose a comprehensive societalization, 
and especially a political framework of communal action, within which 
they operate^ This does not mean that parties would be confined by the 
frontiers of any individual political community. On the contrary, at all 
times it has been the order of the day that the societalization (even when 
it aims at the use of military force in common) reaches beyond the 
frontiers of politics. This has been the case in the solidarity of interests 
among the Oligarchs and among the democrats in Hellas, among the 
Guelfs and among Ghibellines in the Middle Ages, and within the Calvin- 
ist party during the period of religious struggles. It has been the case up 
to the solidarity of the landlords (international congress of agrarian land- 
lords), and has continued among princes (holy alliance, Karlsbad de- 
crees), socialist workers, conservatives (tht longing of Prussian conserva- 
tives for Russian intervention in 1850), But their aim is not necessarily 
the establishment of new international political, i.e. territorial, dominion. 
In the main they aim to influence the existing dominion.* 

* The posthumously published text breaks off here. We omit an incomplete sketch of 
types of 'warrior estates.' 

V iii. Jjureaucracy 

I : Characteristics of Bureaucracy 

Modern officialdom functions in the following specific nianne rj 

I. There is the principle of fixed and official jurisdictional areas^- 
^iihiciu^e generally ordere d by rules, that is, bylaw s or admimsfrative 

1. The regular activities required for the purposes of the bureau- 
cratically governed structure are distributed in a fixed way as official 

2. The authority to give the commands required for the discharge 
of these duties is distributed in a stable way and is strictly delimited by 
rules concerning the coercive means, physical, sacerdotal, or otherwise, 
which may be placed at the disposal of officials. 

3. Methodical provision is made for the regular and continuous fulfil- 
ment of these duties and for the execution of the corresponding rights; 
only persons who have the generally regulated qualifications to serve 
are employed. 

In public and law ful governmentthese three elern£n.ts constiLiite 
^bureaucfaiic authority.' In private economicJomi nation, they constitute 
bureaucratic nja nagemeiTtr"Bureaucracy. thus understood, is fully de- 

veloped in political and ecclesiastical communities only in the modern 
state, and, in the private economy, only in the most advanced institutions 
of capitalism.\Permanent and public office authority, with fixed jurisdic- 
tion, is not the historical rule but rather the exception.. This is so even 
in large political structures such as those of the ancient Orient, the Ger- 
manic and Mongolian empires of conquest, or of many feudal structures 
of state. In all these cases, the ruler executes the most important measures 
through personal trustees, table-companions, or court-servants. Their 

Wirtschaft itnd Gesellschajt, part in, chap. 6, pp. 650-78. 



commissions and authority are not precisely delimited and are tempo- 
rarily called into being for each case. 

II. The principles of office ^hierarchy \and of levels of graded authority 
m ean a firrn ly ordered system of super- and subordination in which 
there is a supervision of the lower offices by the higher ones. Such a sys-* 
tern offers the governed the possibility of appealing the decisiori~6f a 
lower office to its higher authority, in a definitely regulated manner. 
With the full development of the bureaucratic type, the office hierarchy 
is monocratically organized. The princj^ leo/hi erarchical pffi ce authority 
is found in all bu reaucratic structures : in state and ecclesiasticaTstructures • 
as well as in large party organizations and private enterprises. It does 
not matter for the character of bureaucracy whether its authority is 
called 'private' or 'public' 

When the principle of jurisdictional 'competency' is fully carried 
through, hierarchical subordination — at least in public office — does not 
mean that the 'higher' authority is simply authorized to take over the 
business of the 'lower.' Indeed, the opposite is the rule. Qnce_established 
and having fulfilled its task, an office tends to continue in existence and 
be heId"5^IinQther incumbent. ^~ 

III. The management of the modern office is based upon written 
documents X^the files')^ which are ^preserved in their original or draught 
form . There is, therefore, a staff of sub^ern officials and scribes of all 
sorts. The body of officials actively engaged in a 'public' office, along 
with the respective apparatus of material implements and the files, 
make up a 'bureau.' In private enterprise, 'the bureau' is often called 'the 
ofEge.' " ■ 

In principle, the modern organization of the civil service separates the 
bureau from the private domicile of the official, and, i n genera l, bureau- 
cracy segregates official activity as something distinct from the sphere 
oF^private life. Public momes and equipment are divorced from the 
private property of the official. This condition is everywhere the product 
of a long development. Nowadays, it is found in public as well as in 
private enterprises; in the latter, the principle extends even to the leading 
entrepreneur. In prinsiple, the executive office is separated from the 
household, business from private correspondence, and business assets 
from private fortunes. The more consistently the modern type of busi- 
ness management has been carried through the more are these separa- 
tions the case. The beginnings of this process are to be found as early 
as the Middle Ages. 

198 POWER 

It is the peculiarity of tlie modern entrepreneur that he conducts him- 
self as the 'first official' of his enterprise, in the very same way in which 
the ruler of a specifically modern bureaucratic state spoke of himself as 
'the first servant' of the state.^ The idea that the bureau activities of the 
state are intrinsically different in character from the management of 
private economic offices is a continental European notion and, by way of 
contrast, is totally foreign to the American way. 

IV. Office management, at least all specialized office management — 
and such management is distinctly modern — usuiHIyTpresuppos es thor- 
ough a nd expert training. ^This increasingly holds for the modern execu- 
tive and employee of private enterprises, in the same manner as it holds 
for the state official. 

V _.W1^^" ^^^ nfFire is full y__j. evelo ped, official^actiyity demands the 
full working capacity of the official, irrespective of the fact tKat his oblig- 
a tory time inrtR e_bureauTjnay be firmly deUmited. InTlKe normal case, 
this is only the product of a long development, in the public as well as 
in the private office. Formerly, in all cases, the normal state of affairs 
was reversed: official business was discharged as a secondary activity. 

VI. The management of the office follow s gen eral rules, which are 
more" or less stable, rnore or less exhaustive, and wKictrTaTr~bc-icarned. 
Knowledge of these rules represents a special technical learning which 
the officials possess. It involves jurisprudence, or administrative or busi- 
ness management. 

' The reduetioHr of ^?aodern-office' management to rules is deeply ein- _ 
.bedded .in its very nature. The theory of modern public administration, 
for instance, assumes that the authority to order certain matters by de- 
cree — which has been legally granted to public authorities — does not en- 
title the bureau tojxgulate- the matter by commands given for each case, 
buL-XMily.-to regulate. the matter abstractly. This stands in extreme con- 
trast to the regulation of all relationships through individual privileges 
and bestowals of favor, which is absolutely dominant in patrimonialism, 
at least in so far as such relationships are not fixed by sacred tradition. 

2: The Position of the Official 

All this results in the follo wing for the internal, and external position 
of tji e.,official: 

I. Office hold ing is a 'vocation.' This is shown, first, in the requirement 
of a firmly prescribed course of training, which demands the entire 


capacity for work for a long period of time, and in the generally pre- 
scribed and special examinations which are prerequisites of employment. ^ TE^"^ 
Furthermore, the position of the o gicial is in the nature of a duty. This |- e^- '^^ 
determines the internal structure of his relations, in the following man- 
ner: Legally and actually, office holding is not considered a source to be 
exploited for rents or emoluments, as was normally the case during the 
Middle Ages and frequently up to the threshold of recent times. Nor is 
office holding considered a usual exchange of services for equivalents, -^c;^ 
as is the case with free labor contracts. ( Entrance into an office, includm^\ ^ Vr 
one in the^riyate economy, is considered an acceptance of a specific obli- L- V^ 
gation of faithful management in return for a secure existenceJit is de- J "v-V^'' 
cisive Tor the specific nature of modern loyalty to an office that, in the : ,j-^' 
pure type, it does not establish a relationship to a person, like the vassal's 
or disciple's faith in feudal or in patrimonial relations of authority / Mod-_ 
ern loyaltyjs devoted t^qjmpersonal_andfun^^^ Behind the,. -^ 

functional purposes, of course,, 'ideas of culture-values' usually stan J. } 
These are ersatz for the earthly or supra-mundane personal master: 
ideas such as 'state,' 'church,' 'community,' 'party,' or 'enterprise' are 
thought of as being realized in a community; they provide an ideological 
halo for the master. 

The political official — at least in the fully developed modern state — is 
not considered the personal servant of a ruler. Today, the bishop, the 
priest, and the preacher are in fact no longer, as in early Christian times, 
holders of purely personal charisma. The supra-mundane and sacred 
values which they offer are given to everybody who seems to be worthy 
of them and who asks for them. In former times, such leaders acted 
upon the personal command of their master; in principle, they were re- 
sponsible only to him. Nowadays, in spite of the partial survival of the 
old theory, such religious leaders are officials in the service of a func- 
tional purpose, which in the [present-day 'church' has become routinized 
and, in turn, ideologically hallowed.. 

II. The personal position of the official is patterned in the following^ 

I. Whether he is in a private office or a public bureau, the modern 
official always strives and usually enjoys a distinct social esteem as com- .-'' 
pared with the governed. His social position is guaranteed by the pre- 
scriptive rules_^of rank order and, for the political official, by special 
deHmUions of the criminal code against 'insults of officials' and 'con- 
tempt' of state and church authorities. 


200 POWER 

The actual social position of the official is normallyvhighest ^here, as 
in old civilized countries, the following conditions prevail: a strong de- 
mand for administration by trained experts; a strong and stable social dif- 
ferentiation, w^here the official predominantly derives from socially and 
economically privileged strata because of the social distribution of power; 
or where the costliness of the required training and status conventions are 
binding upon him. The possession of educational certiEcates — to be dis- 
cussed elsewhere^ — are usually linked with qualification for office. 
Naturally, such certificates or patents enhance the 'status element' in the 
social position of the official. For the rest this status factor in individual 
cases is explicitly and impassively acknowledged; for example, in the 
prescription that the acceptance or rejection of an aspirant to an official 
career depends upon the consent ('election') of the members of the offi- 
cial body. This is the case in the German army with the officer corps. 
Similar phenomena, which promote this guild-like closure of officialdom, 
are typically found in patrimonial and, particularly, in prebendal official- 
doms of the past. The desire to resurrect such phenomena in changed 
forms is by no means infrequent among modern bureaucrats. For in- 
stance, they have played a role among the demands of the quite prole- 
tarian and expert officials (the tretyj element) during the Russian revo- 

Usually the social esteem of the officials as such is especially (low where 
the demand for expert administration and the dominance oj^status con- 
ventions are weak. This is especially the case in the United States; it is 
often the case in new settlements by virtue of their wide fields for profit- 
making and the great instabiHty of their social stratification. 

2. The giure^tj^e of bureaucrat ic official is a^^ointed by a superior au- 
thority. An official elected by the governed is not a purely bureaucratic 
figure. Of course, the formal existence of an election does not by itself 
mean that no appointment hides behind the election — in the state, espe- 
cially, appointment by party chiefs. Whether or not this is the case does 
not depend upon legal statutes but upon the way in which the party 
mechanism functions. Once firmly organized, the parties can turn a 
formally free election into the mere acclamation of a candidate designated 
by the party chief. As a rule, however, a formally fre e electio n is turned 
into a fi^tj conducted^ according "to^defrriite TuTesTfor votes in favor of 
one of two designated candidates. 

In all circumstances, the designation of officials by means of an ei^- 
tiori among the governed modifies the strictness of hierarchical sub- 


ordinatiort In principle, an official who is so elected has an autonomous' 
position opposite the superordinate official. I^he elected officiaF does not 
derive his position 'from above' but 'from below/yor at least not from a 
superior authority of the official hierarchy but from powerful party men 
('bosses'), who also determine his further career. The career of the 
elected official is not, or a^ least not primarily, dependent upon his 
chief in the administration. (The official who is not elected but appointed 
by a chief normally functions more exactlyJfrom a technical point of 
view, because, all other circumstances being equal, it is more likely 
that purely functional points of consideration and qualities will deter- 
mine his selection and career. As laymen, the governed can become 
acquainted with the extent to which a candidate is expertly qualified 
for office only in terms of experience, and hence only after his service. 
Moreover, in every sort of selection of officials by election, parties quite 
naturally give decisive weight not to expert considerations but to the 
services a follower renders to the party boss. This holds for all kinds 
of procurement of officials by elections, for the designation of formally 
free, elected officials by party bosses when they determine the slate of 
candidates, or the free appointment by a chief who has himself been 
elected. The contrast, however, is relative: substantially similar conditions 
hold where legitimate monarchs and their subordinates appoint officials, 
except that the influence of the followings are then less controllable. 

.Where the demand for administration by trained experts is consider- 
able, and the party followings have to recognize an intellectually de- 
veloped, educated, and freely moving 'public opinion,' the use of un- 
qualified officials falls back upon the party in power at the next elec- 
tion. Naturally, this is more likely to happen when the officials are ap- 
pointed by the chief. The demand for a trained administration now ex- 
ists in the United States, but in the large cities, where immigrant votes \ 
are 'corraled,' there is, of course, no educated public opinion. Therefore, 
popular elections of the administrative chief and also of his subordinate 
officials usually endanger the expert qualification of the official as well '^ 
as the precise functioning of the bureaucratic mechanism. It also weakens 
the dependence of the officials upon the hierarchy. This holds at least 
for the large administrative bodies that are difficult to supervise. The 
superior qualification and integrity of federal judges, appointed by the 
President, as over against elected judges in the United States is well 
known, although both types of officials have been selected primarily in 
terms of party considerations. The great changes in American metropoli- 

202 POWER 

tan administrations demanded by reformers have proceeded essentially 
from elected mayors working with an apparatus of officials who were 
appointed by them. These reforms have thus come about in a 'Caesarist' 
fashion. Viewed technically, as an organized form of authority, the 
efficiency of 'Caesarism,' which often grows out of democracy, rests in 
general upon the position of the 'Caesar' as a free trustee of the masses 
(of the army or of the citizenry), who is unfettered by tradition. The 
'Caesar' is thus the unrestrained master of a body of highly qualified 
military officers and officials whom he selects freely and personally with- 
out regard to tradition or to any other considerations. This 'rule of the 
personal genius,' however, stands in contradiction to the formally 'demo- 
cratic' principle of a universally elected officialdom. 

3. Normally, the position of the official is held for life, at least in pub- 
lic bureaucracies; and this is increasingly the case for all similar struc- 
tures. As a factual rule, tenure for life is presupposed, even where the 
giving of notice or periodic reappointment occurs. In contrast to the 
worker in a private enterprise, the official normally holds tenure. Legal 
or actual life-tenure, however, is not recognized as the official's right 
to the possession of office, as was the case with many structures of "aiP 
thority in the past. Where legal guarantees against arbitrary dismissal or 
transfer are developed, they merely serve to guarantee a strictly objec- 
tive discharge of specific office duties free from all personal considerations. 
In Germany, this is the case for all juridical and, increasingly, for all 
administrative officials. 

Within the bureaucracy, therefore, the measure of 'independence,' 
legally guaranteed by tenure, is not always a source of increased status 
for the official whose position is thus secured. Indeed, often the reverse 
holds, especially in old cultures and communities that are highly differ- 
entiated. In such communities, the stricter the subordination under the 
arbitrary rule of the master, the more it guarantees the maintenance of 
the conventional seigneurial style of living for the official. Because of 
the very absence of these legal guarantees of tenure, the conventional 
esteem for the official may rise in the same way as, during the Middle 
Ages, the esteem of the nobility of office ^ rose at the expense of esteem 
for the freemen, and as the king's judge surpassed that of the people's 
judge. In Germany, the military officer or the administrative official 
can be removed from office at any time, or at least far more readily than 
the 'independent judge,' who never pays with loss of his office for even 
the grossest offense against the 'code of honor' or against social conven- 


tions of the salon. For this very reason, if other things are equal, in the 
eyes of the master stratum the judge is considered less qualified for 
social intercourse than are officers and administrative officials, whose 
greater dependence on the master is a greater guarantee of their con- 
formity with status conventions. ' Of course, the average official strives 
for a civil-service law, which would materially secure his old age and 
provide increased guarantees against his arbitrary removal from office. 
This striving, however, has its limits. A very strong development of the 
'right to the office' naturally makes it more difficult to stafiE them with 
regard to technical efficiency, for such a development decreases the 
career-opportunities of ambitious candidates for office. This makes for 
the fact that officials, on the whole, do not feel their dependency upon 
those at the top. This lack of a feeling of dependency, however, rests 
primarily upon the inclination to depend upon one's equals rather than 
upon the socially inferior and governed strata. The present conservative 
movement among the Badenia clergy, occasioned by the anxiety of a 
presumably threatening separation of church and state, has been expressly 
determined by the desire not to be turned 'from a master into a servant 
of the parish.' ^ 

4. The official receives the regular pecuniary compensation of a nor- 
mally fixed salary and the old age security provided by a pension. The 
salary is not measured like a wage in terms of work done, but accord- 
ing to 'status,' that is, according to the kind of function (the 'rank') and, 
in addition, possibly, according to the length of service. The relatively 
great security of the official's income, as well as the rewards of social 
esteem, make the office a sought-after position, especially in countries 
which no longer provide opportunities for colonial profits. In such 
countries, this situation permits relatively low salaries for officials. 

5. The official is set for a 'career' within the hierarchical order of the 
public service. He moves from the lower, less important, and lower paid 
"to the higher positions. The average official naturally desires a mechani- 
cal fixing of the conditions of promotion: if not of the offices, at least of 
the salary levels. He wants these conditions fixed in terms of 'seniority,' 
or possibly according to grades achieved in a developed system of expert 
examinations. Here and there, such examinations actually form a char- 
acter indelebilis of the official and have lifelong effects on his career. To 
this is joined the desire to qualify the right to office and the increasing 
tendency toward status group closure and economic security. All of this 
makes for a tendency to consider the offices as 'prebends' of those who are 

204 POWER 

qualified by educational certificates. The necessity o£ taking general per- 
sonal and intellectual qualifications into consideration, irrespective of the 
often subaltern character of the educational certificate, has led to a con- 
dition in which the highest political offices, especially the positions of 
'ministers,' are principally filled without reference to such certificates. 

3: The Presuppositions and Causes of Bureaucracy 

The social and economic presuppositions of the modern structure of 
the office are as follows: 

,, The development of the money economy, in so far as a pecuniary com- 
pensation of the officials is concerned, is a presupposition of bureaucracy. 
Today it not only prevails but is predominant. This fact is of very great 
importance for the whole bearing of bureaucracy, yet by_ itself it is by 
no means decisive for the existence of bureaucracy. 

Historical examples of rather distinctly developed and quantitatively 
large bureaucracies are: (a) Egypt, during the period of the new Empire 
which, however, contained strong patrimonial elements; (b) the later 
Roman Principate, and especially the Diocletian monarchy and the 
Byzantine polity which developed out of it and yet retained strong 
feudal and patrimonial elements; (c) the Roman Catholic Church, in- 
creasingly so since the end of the thirteenth century; (d) China, from 
the time of Shi Hwangti until the present, but with strong patrimonial 
and prebendal elements; (e) in ever purer forms, the modern European 
states and, increasingly, all public corporations since the time of princely 
absolutism; (f) the large modern capitalist enterprise, the more so as it 
becomes greater and more complicated. 

To a very great extent, partly even predominantly, cases (a) to (d) 
have rested upon compensation of the officials in kind. Yet they have 
displayed many other traits and effects characteristic of bureaucracy. 
The historical model of all later bureaucracies — the new Empire of 
Egypt — is at the same time one of the most grandiose examples of an 
organized subsistence economy. Yet this coincidence of bureaucracy and 
subsistence economy is understandable in view of the quite unique con- 
ditions that existed in Egypt. And the reservations — and they are quite 
considerable — which one must make in classifying this Egyptian struc- 
ture as a bureaucracy are conditioned by the subsistence economy. A cer- 
tain measure of a developed money economy is the normal precondition 


for the unchanged and continued existence, if not for the estabUshment, 
of pure bureaucratic administrations. 

According to historical experience, without a money economy the 
bureaucratic structure can hardly avoid undergoing substantial internal 
changes, or indeed, turning into another type of structure. The allocation 
of fixed income in kind, from the magazines of the lord or from his 
current intake, to the officials easily means a first step toward appropria- 
tion of the sources of taxation and their exploitation as private property. 
This kind of allocation has been the rule in Egypt and China for thou- 
sands of years and played an important part in the later Roman mon- 
archy as well as elsewhere. The income in kind has protected the official 
against the often sharp fluctuations in the purchasing power of money. 
Whenever the lord's prerogatives have relaxed, the taxes in kind, as a 
rule, have been irregular. In this case, the official has direct recourse to 
the tributaries of his bailiwick, whether or not he is authorized. Close 
at hand is the idea of securing the official against such oscillations by 
mortgaging or transferring the levies and therewith the power to tax, 
or by leasing profitable lands of the lord to the official for his own use. 
Every central authority which is not strictly organized is tempted to take 
this course either voluntarily or because the officials compel it to do so. 
The official may satisfy himself with the use of these levies or loans up 
to the level of his salary claim and then hand over the surplus. This im- 
pHes strong temptation and therefore yields results chiefly unsatisfactory 
to the lord. Another process involves fixing the official's salary : This often 
occurred in the early history of German officialdom; and it happened on 
the largest scale in all Eastern Satrap administrations: the official hands 
over a stipulated amount and retains the surplus. 

In such cases the official is economically in a position rather similar 
to that of the entrepreneurial tax-farmer. Indeed, office-farming including 
even the leasing of offices to the highest bidder is regularly found. On 
the soil of a private economy, the transformation of the statutes of 
villeftiage into tenancy relations is one of the most important among 
numerous examples. By tenancy arrangements the lord can transfer the 
trouble of changing his income-in-kind into money-income to the office 
tenant or to the official who is to be given a fixed sum. This was plainly 
the case with some Oriental regents in Antiquity. And above all, the 
farming out of public collection of taxes in lieu of the lord's own man- 
agement of taxgathering served this purpose. From this procedure there 
develops the possibility for the lord to progress in the ordering of his 

206 POWER 

finances into a systematic budget. This is a very important advance, for 
it means that a fixed estimate of the income, and correspondingly of the 
expenses, c^yi taice the place of a hand-to-mouth living from incalculable 
incomes in kind, a condition typical of all the early states of public 
households. On the other hand, in systematizing his budget in this w^ay, 
the lord renounces the control and full exploitation of his capacity to tax 
for his own use. According to the measure of freedom left to the official, 
to the office, or to the tax-farmer, the lasting capacity to pay taxes is en- 
dangered by inconsiderate exploitation. For, unlike the political overlord, 
the capitalist is not in the same way permanently interested in the sub- 
ject's ability to pay. 

The lord seeks to safeguard himself against this loss of control by 
regulations. The mode of tax-farming or the transfer of taxes can thus 
vary widely, according to the distribution of power between the lord 
and the tenant. Either the tenant's interest in the free exploitation of ca- 
pacity to pay taxes or the lord's interest in the permanence of this 
capacity prevails.. The nature of the tax-farming system rests essentially 
upon the joint or the opposing influence of these motives: the elimina- 
tion of oscillations in the yields, the possibility of a budget, the safeguard- 
ing of the subjects' capacity to pay by protecting them against uneco- 
nomical exploitation, and a state control of the tax-farmer's yields for the 
sake of appropriating the maximum possible. In the Ptolemaic empire, as 
in Hellas and in Rome, the tax-farmer was still a private capitalist. The 
raising of taxes, however, was bureaucratically executed and controlled 
by the Ptolemaic state. The tenant's profit consisted in only a share of 
the respective surplus over and above the tax-farmer's fee, which was, in 
fact, only a guarantee. The tax-farmer's risk consisted in the possibility 
of yields that were lower than this sum. 

The purely economic conception of the office as a source of the official's 
private income can also lead to the direct purchase of offices. This occurs 
when the lord finds himself in a position in which he requires not only 
a current income but money capital — for instance, for warfare or for 
debt payments. The purchase of office as a regular institution has existed 
in modern states, in the church state as well as in that of France and 
England; it has existed in the cases of sinecures as well as of very serious 
offices; and, in the case of officers' commissions, it lagged over until the 
early nineteenth century. In individual cases, the economic meaning of 
such a purchase of office can be altered so that the purchasing sum is 


partly or wholly in the nature of bail deposited for faithful service, but 
this has not been the rule. 

Every sort of assignment of usufructs, tributes and services which are 
due to the lord himself or to the official for personal exploitation, always 
means a surrender of the pure type of bureaucratic organization. The 
official in such positions has a personal right to the possession of his 
office. This is the case to a still higher degree when official duty and 
compensation are interrelated in such a way that the official does not 
transfer to the lord any yields gained from the objects left to him, but 
handles these objects for his private ends and in turn renders to the 
lord services of a personal or a military, political, or ecclesiastical 

We wish to speak of 'prebends' and of a 'prebendal' organization -of 
office, wherever the lord assigns to the official rent payments for life, 
payments which are somehow fixed to objects or which are essentially I 
economic usufruct from lands or other sources. They must be compensa- I 
tions for the fulfilment of actual or fictitious office duties; they are goods f 
permanently set aside for the economic assurance of the office. 

The transition from such prebendal organization of office to salaried 
officialdom is quite fluid. Very often the economic endowment of priest- 
hoods has been 'prebendal,' as in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and 
even up to the modern period. But in almost all periods the same form 
has been found in other areas. In Chinese sacerdotal law, the prebendal 
character of all offices forced the mourning official to resign his office. 
For during the ritual mourning period for the father or other household 
authorities abstention from the enjoyment of possessions was prescribed. 
Originally this prescription was aimed at avoiding the ill-will of the 
deceased master of the house, for the house belonged to this master and 
the office was considered purely as a prebend, a source for rent. 

When not only ecpnomic rights but also lordly prerogatives are leased 
for personal execution with the stipulation of personal services to the 
lord, a further step away from salaried bureaucracy is taken. These 
leased prerogatives vary; for instance, with the political official, they 
may be in the nature of landlordism or in the nature of office authority. 
In both instances, and certainly in the latter, the specific nature of bureau- 
cratic organization is completely destroyed and we enter the organiza- 
tional realm of feudal dominion. All kinds of assignments of services 
and usufructs in kind as endowments for officials tend to loosen the 
bureaucratic mechanism, and especially to weaken hierarchic subordina- 

208 POWER 

tion. This subordination is most strictly developed in the discipline of 
modern officialdom. A precision similar to the precision of the con- 
tractually employed official of the modern Occident can only be attained 
— at least under very energetic leadership — where the subjection of the 
officials to the lord is personally absolute, where slaves, or employees 
treated like slaves, are used for administration. 

The Egyptian officials were slaves of the Pharaoh, if not legally, at 
least in fact. The Roman latifundia owners liked to commission slaves 
with the direct management of money matters, because of the possibility 
of subjecting them to torture. In China, similar results have been sought 
by the prodigial use of the bamboo as a disciplinary instrument. The 
chances, however, for such direct means of coercion to function with 
steadiness are extremely unfavorable. According to experience, the rela- 
tive optimum for the success and maintenance of a strict mechanization 
of the bureaucratic apparatus is offered by a secured money salary con- 
nected with the opportunity of a career that is not dependent upon mere 
accident and arbitrariness. Strict discipline and -control, which at the same 
time has consideration for the official's sense of honor, and the develop- 
ment of prestige sentiments of the status group, as well as the possibility 
of public criticism, work in the direction of strict mechanization. With 
all this, the bureaucratic apparatus functions more assuredly than does 
any legal enslavement of functionaries. A strong status sentiment among 
officials not only agrees with the official's readiness to subordinate him- 
self to the chief without any will of his own, but — just as is the case with 
the officer — status sentiments are the consequence of such subordination, 
for internally they balance the official's self-feeling. The purely imper- 
sonal character of office work, with its principled separation of the private 
sphere of the official from that of the office, facilitates the official's inte- 
gration into the given functional conditions of a fixed mechanism based 
upon discipline. 

Even though the full development of a money economy is not an 
indispensable precondition for bureaucratization, bureaucracy as a perma- 
nent structure is knit to the one presupposition of a constant income for 
maintaining it. Where such an income cannot be derived from private 
profits, as is the case with the bureaucratic organization of large modern 
enterprises, or from fixed land rents, as with the manor, a stable system 
of taxation is the precondition for the permanent existence of bureau- 
cratic administration. For well-known and general reasons, only a fully 
developed money economy offers a secure basis for such a taxation sys- 


tern. The degree of administrative bureaucratization in urban communi- 
ties with fully developed money economies has not infrequently been 
relatively greater in the contemporary far larger states of plains. Yet 
as soon as these plain states have been able to develop orderly systems 
of tribute, bureaucracy has developed more comprehensively than in 
city states. Whenever the size of the city states has remained confined 
to moderate limits, the tendency for a plutocratic and collegial adminis- 
tration by notables has corresponded most adequately to their structure. 

4: The Quantitative Development of AnMiNisTRATunE Tasks 

The proper soil for the bureaucratization of an administration has al- 
ways been the specific developments of administrative tasks. We shall 
first discuss the quantitative extension of such tasks. In the field of 
politics, the great state and the mass party are the classic soil for bureau- 

This does not mean that every historically known and genuine forma- 
tion of great states has brought about a bureaucratic administration. The 
permanence of a once-existing great state, or the homogeneity of a culture 
borne by such a state, has not always been attached to a bureaucratic 
structure of state. However, both of these features have held to a great ex- 
tent, for instance, in the Chinese empire. The numerous great Negro em- 
pires, and similar formations, have had only an ephemerital existence 
primarily because they have lacked an apparatus of officials. And the 
unity of the Carolingian empire disintegrated when its organization of 
officials disintegrated. This organization, however, was predominantly 
patrimonial rather than bureaucratic in nature. From a purely temporal 
view, however, the empire of the Caliphs and its predecessors on Asiatic 
soil have lasted for considerable periods of time, and their organization 
of office was essentially patrimonial and prebendal. Also, the Holy Roman 
Empire lasted for a long time in spite of the almost complete absence 
of bureaucracy. All these realms have represented a cultural unity of at 
least approximately the same strength as is usually created by bureau- 
cratic polities. 

The ancient Roman Empire disintegrated internally in spite of in- 
creasing bureaucratization and even during its very execution. This was 
because of the way the tax burdens were distributed by the bureaucratic 
state, which favored the subsistence economy. Viewed with regard to the 
intensity of their purely political unities, the temporal existences of the 

210 POWER 

empires o£ the Caliphs, CaroHngian and other medieval emperors were 
essentially unstable, nominal, and cohesive conglomerates. On the whole, 
the capacity for political action steadily diminished, and the relatively 
great unity of culture flowed from ecclesiastic structures that were in part 
strictly unified and, in the Occidental Middle Ages, increasingly bureau- 
cratic in character. The unity of their cultures resulted partly from the 
far-going homogeneity of their social structures, which in turn was the 
aftermath and transformation of their former political unity. Both are 
phenomena of the traditional stereotyping of culture, which favors an 
unstable equilibrium. Both of these factors proved so strong a foundation 
that even grandiose attempts at expansion, such as the Crusades, could be 
undertaken in spite of the lack of intensive poUtical unity; they were, 
one might say, performed as 'private undertakings.' The failure of the 
Crusades and their often irrational political course, however, is associated 
with the absence of a unified and intensive state power to back them up. 
And there is no doubt that the nuclei of intensive 'modern' states in 
the Middle Ages developed concomitantly with bureaucratic structures. 
Furthermore, in the end these quite bureaucratic political structures 
undoubtedly shattered the social conglomerates, which rested essentially 
upon unstable equilibriums. 

The disintegration of the Roman Empire was partly conditioned by 
the very bureaucratization of its army and official apparatus. This bu- 
reaucratization could only be realized by carrying through at the same 
time a method of taxation which by its distribution of burdens was 
bound to lead to relative increase in the importance of a subsistence 
economy. Individual factors of this sort always enter the picture. Also 
the 'intensity' of the external and the internal state activities play their 
part. Quite apart from the relation between the state influence upon cul- 
ture and the degree of bureaucratization, it may be said that 'normally' — 
though not without exception — the vigor to expand is directly related to 
the degree of bureaucratization. For two of the most expansive polities, 
the Roman Empire and the British world empire, during their most ex- 
pansive periods, rested upon bureaucratic foundations only to a small 
extent. The Norman state in England carried through a strict organiza- 
tion on the basis of a feudal hierarchy. To a large extent, it received its 
unity and its push through the bureaucratization of the royal exchequer, 
which, in comparison to other political structures of the feudal period, 
was extremely strict. Later on, the English state did not share in the 
continental development towards bureaucratization, but remained an 


administration of notables. Just as in the republican administration of 
Rome, this English rule by notables was a result of the relative absence 
of a continental character, as well as of absolutely unique preconditions, 
which at the present time are disappearing. The dispensability of the 
large standing armies, which a continental state with equally expansive 
tendencies requires for its land frontiers, is among these special pre- 
conditions. In Rome, bureaucratization advanced with the transition 
from a coastal to a continental ring of frontiers. For the rest, in the 
domination structure of Rome, the strictly military character of the 
magistrate authorities — in the Roman manner unknown to any other 
people — made up for the lack of a bureaucratic apparatus with its tech- 
nical efficiency,^ its precision and unity of administrative functions, 
especially outside the city limits. The continuity of administration was 
safeguarded by the unique position of the Senate. In Rome, as in Eng- 
land, one presupposition for this dispensability of bureaucracy which 
should not be forgotten was that the state authorities increasingly 'mini- 
mized' the scope of their functions at home. They restricted their func- 
tions to what was absolutely demanded for direct 'reasons of state.' 

At the beginning of the modern period, all the prerogatives of the 
continental states accumulated in the hands of those princes who most 
relentlessly took the course of administrative bureaucratization. It is obvi- 
ous that technically the great modern state is absolutely dependent upon 
a bureaucratic basis. The larger the state, and the more it is or the more 
it becomes a great power state, the more unconditionally is this the case. 

The United States still bears the character of a polity which, at least 
in the technical sense, is not fully bureaucratized. But the greater the 
zones of friction with the outside and the more urgent the needs for 
administrative unity at home become, the more this character is inevita- 
bly and gradually giving way formally to the bureaucratic structure. 
Moreover, the partly unbureaucratic form of the state structure of the 
United States is materially balanced by the more strictly bureaucratic 
structures of those formations which, in truth, dominate politically, 
namely, the parties under the leadership of professionals or experts in 
organization and election tactics. The increasingly bureaucratic organi- 
zation of all genuine mass parties offers the most striking example of 
the role of sheer quantity as a leverage for the bureaucratization of a " 
social structure. In Germany, above all, the Social Democratic party, and 
abroad both of the 'historical' American parties are bureaucratic in the 
greatest possible degree. 

212 POWER 

5: Qualitative Changes of Administrative Tasks 

Bureaucratization is occasioned more by intensive and qualitative 
enlargement and internal deployment of the scope of administrative 
! tasks than by their extensive and quantitative increase. But the direction 
\[ bureaucratization takes and the reasons that occasion it vary widely. 
In Egypt, the oldest country of bureaucratic state administration, the 
public and collective regulation of waterways for the whole country 
and from the top could not be avoided because of technical economic 
factors. This regulation created the mechanism of scribes and officials. 
Once established, this mechanism, even in early times, found its second 
realm of business in the extraordinary construction activities which were 
organized militarily. As mentioned before, 'the bureaucratic tendency has 
chiefly been influenced by needs arising from the creation of standing 
*-*«'! armies as determined by power politics and by the development of pub- 
lic finance connected with the military establishment. In the modern 
state, the increasing demands for administration rest on the increasing 
complexity of civilization and push towards bureaucratization. 

Very considerable expansions, especially overseas, have, of course, been 
managed by states ruled by notables (Rome, England, Venice), as will 
. become evident in the appropriate context. Yet the .'.inteJlsity' of the 
administration, that is, the transfer of as many tasks as possible to the 
organization of the state proper for continuous management and dis- 
charge, has been only slightly developed among the great states ruled 
, by notables, especially Rome and England, if we compare them with 
!jj^ bureaucratic polities. 

Both in notable and bureaucratic administrations the structure of state 
''ti power has influenced culture very strongly. But it has done so relatively 
slightly in the form of management and control by the state. This holds 
from justice down to education. The growing demands on culture, in 
turn, are determined, though to a varying extent, by the growing wealth 
of the most influential strata in the state. To this extent increasing 
bureaucratization is a function of the increasing possession of goods used 
for consumption, and of an increasingly sophisticated technique of fash- 
ioning external life — a technique which corresponds to the opportunities 
provided by such wealth. This reacts upon the standard of living and 
^' makes for an increasing subjective indispensability of organized, collec- 
tive, inter-local, and thus bureaucratic, provision for the most varied 



wants, which previously were either unknown, or were satisfied locally 
or by a private economy. 

Among purely political factors, the increasing demand of a society, 
accustomed to absolute pacification, for order and protection ('police') 
in all fields exerts an especially persevering influence in the direction of 
bureaucratization. A steady road leads from modifications of the blood 
feud, sacerdotally, or by means of arbitration, to the present position of 
the poHceman as the 'representative of God on earth.' The former means 
placed the guarantees for the individual's rights and security squarely 
upon the members of his sib, who are obligated to assist him with oath 
and vengeance. Amon^ other factors, primarily the manifold tasks of the 
so-called 'policy of social welfare', operate in the direction of bureaucrati-*"""* 
zation, for these tasks are, in part, saddled upon the state by interest 
groups and, in part, the state usurps them, either for reasons of power 
policy or for ideological motives. Of course, these tasks are to a large 
extent economically determined. 

Among essentially technical factors, the specifically modern means of 
communication enter the picture as pacemakers of bureaucratization. 
Public land and water-ways, railroads, the telegraph, et cetera — they must, 
in part, necessarily be administered in a public and collective way; in 
part, such administration is technically expedient. In this respect, the 
contemporary means of communication frequently play a role similar 
to that of the canals of Mesopotamia and the regulation of the Nile in 
the ancient Orient. The degree to which the means of communication 
have been developed is a condition of decisive importance for the pos- 
sibihty of bureaucratic administration, although it is not the only decisive 
condition. Certainly in Egypt, bureaucratic centralization, on the basis 
of an almost pure subsistence economy, could never have reached the 
actual degree which it did without the natural trade route of the Nile. 
In order to promote bureaucratic centralization in modern Persia, the 
telegraph officials were officially commissioned with reporting all occur- 
rences in the provinces to the Shah, over the heads of the local authori- 
ties. In addition, everyone received the right to remonstrate directly by 
telegraph. The modern Occidental state can be administered the way it 
actually is only because the state controls the telegraph network and has — 
the mails and railroads at its disposal. 

Railroads, in turn, are intimately connected with the development of 
an inter-local traffic of mass goods. This traffic is among the causal fac- 

214 POWER 

tors in the formation of the modern state. As we have already seen, this 
does not hold unconditionally for the past. 

6: Technical Advantages of Bureaucratic Organization 

k The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic organization has 
/ i always been its purely technical superiority over any other form of 
r I'lOrganization. The fully developed bureaucratic mechamsSTTompares 
with other organizations exactly as does the machine with the non- 
mechanical modes of production. 

Precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge of the files, continuity, dis- 
cretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction and of material 
and personal costs — these are raised to the optimum point in the stric^ 
bureaucratic administration, and especially in its monocratic form. As 
compared with all collegiate, honorific, and avocational forms of admin- 
istration, trained bureaucracy is superior on all these points. And as far 
as complicated tasks are concerned, paid bureaucratic work is not only 
more precise but, in the last analysis, it is often cheaper than even for- 
mally unrernunerated honorific service. . ^ 

Honorific arrangements make administrative work an avocation and, 
for this reason alone, honorific service normally functions more slowly; 
being less bound to schemata and being more formless. Hence it is less 
precise and less unified than bureaucratic work because it is less depend- 
ent upon superiors and because the establishment and exploitation of 
the apparatus of subordinate officials and filing services are almost un- 
avoidably less economical. Honorific service is less continuous than 
bureaucratic and frequently quite expensive. This is especially the case 
if one thinks not only of the money costs to the public treasury — costs 
which bureaucratic administration, in comparison with administration 
by notables, usually substantially increases — but also of the frequent 
economic losses of the governed caused by delays and lack of precision. 

"^ — r The possibility of administration by notables normally and permanently 
exists only where official management can be satisfactorily discharged as 

(,. an avocation. With the qualitative increase of tasks the administration 

I has to face, administration by notables reaches its limits — today, even in 
England. Work organized by collegiate bodies causes friction and delay 
and requires compromises between colliding interests and views. The 
administration, therefore, runs less precisely and is more independent of 
superiors; hence, it is less unified and slower. All advances of the Prus- 


sian administrative organization have been and will in the future be 
advances of the bureaucratic, and especially of the monocratic, principle. 
1 Today, it is primarily the capitalist market economy which demands ^, 
that the official business of the administration be discharged precisely, 
unambiguously, continuously, and with as much speed as possible, Nor- 
mally, the very"Targe, "modem capitalist enterprises are themselves un- 
equalled models of strict bureaucratic organization. Business manage- 
ment throughout rests on increasing precision, steadiness, and, above all, 
the speed of operations. This, in turn, is determined by the peculiar 
nature of the modern means of communication, including, among other 
things, the news service of the press. The extraordinary increase in the 
speed by which public announcements, as well as economic and political 
facts, are transmitted exerts a steady and sharp pressure in the direction 
of speeding up the tempo of administrative reaction towards various 
situations. The optimum of such reaction time is normally attained only 
by a strictly bureaucratic organization.* 

Bureaucratization offers above all the optimum possibility for carrying 
through the principle of specializing administrative functions according 
to purely objective considerations. Individual performances are allocated 
to functionaries who have specialized training and who by constant 
practice learn more and more. The_ 'objective' discharge of business^ri- 
marily means a discharge of business according to calculable rules and 
*witTiout regard tor persons.' 

'Wit hout regard for p ersons' is also the watchword of the 'market' 
and, in general, of all pursuits of naked economic interests. A consistent 
execution of bureaucratic domination means the leveling of status 
'honor.' Hence, if the principle of the free-market is not at the same 
time restricted, it means the universal domination of the 'class situation.' 
That this consequence of bureaucratic domination has not set in every- 
where, parallel to the extent of bureaucratization, is due to the differences 
among possible principles by which polities may meet their demands. 

The second element mentioned, 'cakulable rules,' also is of paramount ^ 
importance for modern bureaucracy. The peculiarity of modern culture, *|'. 
and specifically of its technical and economic basis, demands this very|ij 
'calculability' of results. When fully developed, bureaucracy also stands, 
in a specific sense, under the principle of sine ira ac studio. Its specific 

* Here we cannot discuss in detail how the bureaucratic apparatus may, and actually 
does, produce definite obstacles to the discharge of business in a manner suitable for the 
single case. 

2l6 POWER 

nature, which is welcomed by capitaHsm, develops the more perfectly 
the more the bureaucracy is 'dehumanized,' the more completely it^ suc- 
ceeds in eliminating from official business love, hatred, and all purely 
personal, irrational, and emotional elements which escape calculation. 
This is the specific nature of bureaucracy and it is appraised as its special 

The more complicated and specialized modern culture becomes^ the 
more its external supporting apparatus demands the personally detached^ 
and strictly 'objective' expert, in lieu of the master of older social struc- 
tures, who was moved by personal sympathy and favor, by grace and 
gratitude. Bureaucracy offers the attitudes demanded by the external 
apparatus of modern culture in the most favorable combination. As a 
i rule, only bureaucracy has established the foundation for the adminis- 
j tration of a rational law conceptually systematized on the basis of such 
' enactments as the latter Roman imperial period first created with a high 
degree of technical perfection. During the Middle Ages, this law wa« 
received along with the bureaucratization of legal administration, that 
is to say, with the displacement of the old trial procedure which was 
bound to tradition or to irrational presuppositions, by the rationally 
trained and specialized expert. 

7: Bureaucracy and Law 

The 'rational' interpretation of law on the basis of strictly formal con- 
ceptions stands opposite the kind of adjudication that is primarily bound 
to sacred traditions. The single case that cannot be unambiguously de- 
cided by tradition is either settled by concrete 'revelation' (oracle, pro- 
phetic dicta, or ordeal — that is, by 'charismatic' justice) or — and only 
these cases interest us here— fby informal judgments rendered in terms 
, of concrete ethical or other practical valuations. This is 'Kadi-justice,' as 
R. Schmidt has fittingly called it. Or, formal judgments are rendered, 
though not by subsumption under rational concepts, but by drawing on 
'analogies' and by depending upon and interpreting concrete 'prece- 
dents.' This is 'empirical justicej' 

Kadi-justice knows no reasoned judgment whatever. Nor docs em- 
pirical justice of the pure type give any reasons which in our sense could 
be called rational. The concrete valuational character of Kadi-justice can 
advance to a prophetic break with all tradition. Empirical justice, on the 
other hand, can be sublimated and rationalized into a 'technology,' All 


rion-bureaucratic forms of domination display a peculiar coexistence: on/ 
the one hand, there is a sphere of strict traditionalism, and, on the other,; 
a sphere of free arbitrariness and lordly grace. Therefore, combinationsll 
and transitional forms between these two principles are very frequent; 
they will be discussed in another context. 

Even today in England, as Mendelssohn has demonstrated, a broad 
substratum of justice is actually Kadi-justice to an extent that is hardly 
conceivable on the Continent. The justice of German juries which pre- 
clude a statement of the reasons for their verdict often functions in prac- 
tice in the same way as this EngUsh justice. In general, one has to be- 
ware pf^beHeving^ that 'democratic' principles of justice are identical with 
'rational' adjudication (in the sense of formal rationality). Indeed, the 
contrary holds, as will be shown in another context. The English and 
American adjudication of the highest courts is still to a great extent 
empirical; and especially is it adjudication by precedents. In England, 
the reason for the failure of all efforts at a rational codification of law, 
as well as the failure to borrow Roman law, was due to the successful 
resistance against such rationalization offered by the great and centrally 
organized lawyer s' gu ilds. These guilds formed a monopolistic stratum 
of notables from whose midst the judges of the high courts of the realm 
were recruited. They retained in their hands juristic training as an 
empirical and highly developed technology, and they successfully fought 
all moves towards rational law that threatened their social and material 
position. Such moves came especially from the ecclesiastical courts and, 
for a time, also from the universities. 

The fight of the common law advocates against the Roman and 
ecclesiastical law and the power of the church in general was to a consid- 
erable degree economically caused by the lawyer's interest in fees; this is 
distinctly evidenced by the way in which the king intervened in this 
struggle. But the power position of the lawyers, who emerged victori- 
ously from this struggle, was conditioned by political centralization. In 
Germany, primarily for political reasons, a socially powerful estate of 
notables was lacking. There was no estate which, like the English law- 
yers, could have been the carriers of a national administration of law, 
which could have raised national law to the level of a technology with 
regulated apprenticeship, and which could have offered resistance to the 
intrusion of the technically superior traming of jurists in Roman law. 
\ That fact that Roman law was substantively better adjusted to the 
> needs of emerging capitalism did not decide its victory on the Continent. 

21 8 POWER 

All legal institutions specific for modern capitalism are alien to Roman 
law and are medieval in origin. What was decisive was the rational 
form of Roman law and, above all, the technical necessity to place the 
trial procedure in the hands of rationally trained experts, which meant 
men trained in the universities and learned in Roman law. This training 
was necessary because the increasing complexity of practical legal cases 
' and the increasingly ^Rationalized economy demanded^ a rational proce- 
_^ tclure of evidence*rather than the ascertainment of true facts by concrete 
revelation or sacerdotal guarantee, which, of course, are the ubiquitous 
and primeval means of proof. This legal situation was also determined 
to a large extent by structural changes in the economy. This factor, how- 
ever, was efficacious everywhere, including England, where the royal 
power introduced the rational procedure of evidence for the sake of the 
merchants. The predominant reasons for the differences, which still 
exist, in the development of substantive law in England and Germany 
do not rest up on this economic Ja ctor. As is already obvious, these differ- 
ences have sprung from the lawfully autonomous development of the 
respective struct ures of dom ination. 

In England centralized justice and notable rule have been associated; 
in Germany, at the same time, there is bureaucratization and an absence 
of political centralization. England, which in modern times was the first 
and most highly developed capitalist country, thereby retained a less 
rational and less bureaucratic judicature. Capitalism in England, how- 
ever, could quite easily come to terms with this, especially because the 
nature of the court constitution and of the trial procedure up to the mod- 
ern period amounted in effect to a far-going denial of justice to the eco- 
nomically weak group?. This fact exerted a profound influence upon the 
distribution of landholdings in England by favoring the accumulation 
and immobilization of landed wealth. The length and expense of real 
estate transfers, determined by the economic interests of the lawyers, also 
worked in the same direction. 

During the time of the Republic, Roman law represented a unique 
mixture of rational and empirical elements, and even of elements of 
Kadi-justice. The appointment of a jury as such, and the praetor's 
actiones in factum, which at first undoubtedly occurred 'from one given 
case to another,' contained an element of Kadi-justice. The baihng system 
of Roman justice and all that grew out of it, including even a part of the 
classic jurists' practice of responses, bore an 'empirical' character. The 
decisive turn of juridical thought toward rational thinking was first pre- 


pared by the technical nature of the instruction for trial procedure at 
the hands of the praetorian edict's formula, which were geared to legal 
conceptions. Today, under the dominance of the principle of substantia- 
tion, the presentation of facts is decisive, no matter from what legal point 
of view they may make the complaint seem justified. A similar compul- 
sion to bring out the scope of the concepts unambiguously and formally 
is now lacking; but such a compulsion was produced by the technical 
culture of Roman law at its very height. Technical factors of trial pro- 
cedure thus played their part in the development of rational law, factors 
which resulted only indirectly from the structure of the state. The ration- 
alization_of_Rom^ri law into a closed system of concepts to be scientifi- 
cally handled was brought to perfection only during the period when 
the polity itself underwent bureaucratization. This rational and system- 
atic quality sets off Roman law sharply from all law produced by tKe'^ 
Orient or by Hellenic Greece. 

The rabbinic responses of the Talmud is a typical example of empir- 
ical justice that is not rational but 'rationalist,' and at the same time 
strictly fettered by tradition. Every prophetic verdict is in the end pure 
Kadi-justice, unfettered by tradition, and follows the schema: 'It is writ- 
ten . . . but I say unto you.' The more strongly the religious nature of 
the Kadi's (or a similar judge's) position is emphasized, the more freely 
the judgment of the single case prevails and the less it is encumbered by 
rules within that sphere of its operation which is not fettered by sacred 
tradition. For a generation after the occupation of Tunisia by the French, 
for instance, a very tangible handicap for capitalism remained in that the 
ecclesiastic court (the Chard) decided over land holdings by 'free discre- 
tion,' as the Europeans put it. We shall become acquainted with the 
sociological foundation of these older types of justice when we discuss 
the structures of domination in another context. 

It is perfectly true that 'matter-of-factness' and 'expertness' are sot 
necessarily identical with the rule of general and abstract norms. Indeed, 
this does not even hold in the case of the modern administration of 
justice. In principle, the idea of *a law without gaps' is, of course, vig- 
orously disputed. The conception of the modern judge as an automaton 
into which the files and the costs are thrown in order that it may spill 
forth the verdict at the bottom along with the reasons, read mechanically 
from codified paragraphs — this conception is angrily rejected, perhaps 
because a certain approximation to this type is implied by a consistent 
bureaucratization of justice. In the field of court procedure there are 



220 POWER 

areas in which the bureaucratic judge is directly held to 'individuaHzing' 
procedures by the legislator. 

For the field of administrative activity proper, that is, for all state 
activities that fall outside the field of law creation and court procedure, 
one is accustomed to claiming the freedom and paramountcy of indi- 
vidual circumstances. General norms are held to play primarily a nega- 
tive role as barriers to the official's positive and 'creative' activity, which 
should never be regulated. The bearing of this thesis may be disregarded 
here. Yet the point that this 'freely' creative administration (and possibly 
judicature) does not constitute a realm of free, arbitrary action, of mercy, 
and of personally motivated favor and valuation, as we shall find to be 
the case among pre-bureaucratic forms, is a very decisive point. The 
rule and the rational estimation of 'objective' purposes, as well as devo- 
tion to them, always exist as a norm of conduct. In the field of executive 
administration, especially where the 'cre.Ttive' arbitrariness of the official 
is most strongly built up, the specifically modern and strictly 'objective' 

i idea of 'reasons of state' is upheld as the supreme and ultimate guiding 
star of the official's behavior. 

ut course, and above all, the sure instincts of the bureaucracy for the 
conditions of maintaining its power in its own state (and through 
it, in opposition to other states) are inseparably fused with the canoniza- 
tion of the abstract and 'objective' idea of 'reasons of state.' In the last 
analysis, the power interests of the bureaucracy only give a concretely 
exploitable content to this by no means unambiguous ideal; and, in du- 
bious cases, power interests tip the balance. We cannot discuss this further 
here. The only decisive point for us is that in £rinciple_a _syst em of 
rationally debatable 'reasons' stands behind every act of bureaucratic 

, administration, that is, either subsumption under norms or a weighing 

of ends and means. " 

The position of all 'democratic' currents, in the sense of currents that 
would minimize 'authority,' is necessarily ambiguous. 'Equality before 

, the law' and the demand for legal guarantees against arbitrariness de- 
mand a formal and rational 'objectivity' of administration, as opposed to 
the personally free discretion flowing from the 'grace' of the old patri- 
monial domination. If, however, an 'ethos' — not to speak of instincts — 
takes hold of the masses on some individual question, it postulates sub- 
stantive justice oriented toward some concrete instance and person; and 
such an 'ethos' will unavoidably collide with the formalism and the rule- 


bound and cool 'matter-o£-factness' of bureaucratic administration. For 
this reason, the ethos must emotionally reject what reason demands. 

The propertyless masses especially are not served by a formal 'equality 
before the law' and a 'calculable' adjudication and administration, as 
demanded by 'bourgeois' interests. Naturally, in their eyes justice and 
administration should serve to co mpensa te for their economic and social 
life-opportunities in the face of the propertied classes. Justice and admin- 
istration can fulfil this function only if they assume an informal char- 
acter to a far-reaching extent. It must be informal because it is substan- 
tively 'ethical' ('Kadi-justice'). Every sort of 'popular justice' — which "^ 
usually does not ask for reasons and norms — as well as every sort of 
intensive influence on the administration by so-called public opinion, 
crosses the rational course of justice and administration just as strongly, 
and under certain conditions far more so, as the 'star chamber' proceed- 
ings of an 'absolute' ruler has been able to do. In this connection, that is, 
under the conditions of mass democracy, public opinion is communal 
conduct born of irrational 'sentiments.' Normally it is staged or directed 
by party leaders and the press. 

8: The Concentration of the Means of Administration 

, The Jjureauc ratic structure goes hand in hand with the concentration I'i 
of the material means of managemenT m the hands of the master. This!" 
concentration occurs, for instance, in a well-known and typical fashion, 
in the development of big capitalist enterprises, which find their essential 
characteristics in this process. A corresponding process occurs in public 

The bureaucratically led army of the Pharaohs, the army during the 
later period of the Roman republic and the principate, and, above all, 
the army of the modern military state are characterized by the fact that 
their equipment and provisions are supplied from the magazines of 
the war lord. This is in contrast to the folk armies of agricultural tribes, 
the armed citizenry of ancient cities, the militias of early medieval cities, 
and all feudal armies; for these, the self-equipment and the self-pro- 
visioning of those obliged to fight was normal. 

War in our time is a war of machines. And this makes magazines 
technically necessary, just as the dominance of the machine in industry 
promotes the concentration of the means of production and manage- 
ment. In the main, however, the bureaucratic armies of the past, equipped 

222 POWER 

and provisioned by the lord, have risen when social and economic devel- 
opment has absolutely or relatively diminished the stratum of citizens 
M^ho were economically able to equip themselves, so that their number 
was no longer sufficient for putting the required armies in the field. 
They were reduced at least relatively, that is, in relation to the range of 
power claimed for the polity. Only the bureaucratic army structure 
allowed for the development of the professional standing armies which 
are necessary for the constant pacification ot large states or the plains, 
as well as for warfare against far-distant enemies, especially enemies 
fl overseas. Specifically, miHtary discipline and technical training_c^iT_ be 
f^'^^f normally and fully developed, at least to Itslnodern high level, only in 
"J the bureaucratic army. 

* Historically, the bureaucratization of the army has everywhere been 
realized along with the transfer of army service from the propertied to 
the propertyless. Until this transfer occurs, military service is an honorific 
privilege of propertied men. Such a transfer was made to the native- 
born unpropertied, for instance, in the armies of the generals of the late 
Roman republic and the empire, as well as in modern armies up to the 
nineteenth century. The burden of service has also been transferred to 
strangers, as in the mercenary armies of all ages. This process typically 
goes hand in hand with the general increase in material and intellectual 
culture. The following reason has also played its part everywhere: the 
increasing density of population, and therewith the intensity and strain 
of economic work, makes for an increasing 'indispensability' of the 
acquisitive strata ^ for purposes of war. Leaving aside periods of strong 
ideological fervor, the propertied strata of sophisticated and especially of 
urban culture as a rule are little fitted and also little inclined to do the 
coarse war work of the common soldier. Other circumstances being 
equal, the propertied strata of the open country are at least usually better 
qualified and more strongly inclined to become professional officers. 
This difference between the urban and the rural propertied is balanced 
only where the increasing possibiUty of mechanized warfare requires 
the leaders to qualify as 'technicians.' 

The bureaucratization of organized warfare may be carried through 
in the form of private capitalist enterprise, just like any other business. 
Indeed, the procurement of armies and their administration by private 
capitalists has been the rule in mercenary armies, especially those of the 
Occident up to the turn of the eighteenth century. During the Thirty 
Years' War, in Brandenburg the soldier was still the predominant owner 


of the material implements of his business. He owned his weapons, 
horses, and dress, although the state, in the role, as it were, of the mer- 
chant of the 'putting-out system,' did supply him to some extent. Later 
on, in the standing army of Prussia, the chief of the company owned 
the material means of warfare, and only since the peace of Tilsit has the 
concentration of the means of warfare in the hands of the state definitely 
come about. Only with this concentration was the introduction of 
uniforms generally carried through. Before then, the introduction of 
uniforms had been left to a great extent to the arbitrary discretion of the 
regimental officer, with the exception of individual categories of troops 
to whom the king had 'bestowed' certain uniforms, first, in 1620, to the 
royal bodyguard, then, under Frederick II, repeatedly. 

Such terms as 'regiment' and 'battalion' usually had quite different 
meanings in the eighteenth century from the meanings they have today. 
Only the battalion was a tactical unit (today both are); the 'regiment' 
was then a managerial unit of an economic organization established by 
the colonel's position as an 'entrepreneur.' 'Official' maritime ventures 
(like the Genoese maonae) and army procurement belong to private 
capitalism's first giant enterprises of far-going bureaucratic character. 
In this respect, the 'nationalization' of these enterprises by the state has 
its modern parallel in the nationalization of the railroads, which have ;_ 
been controlled by the state from their beginnings. -^ 

In the same way as with army organizations, the bureaucratization of 
administration goes hand in hand with the concentration of the means 
of organization in other spheres. The old administration by satraps and 
regents, as well as administration by farmers of office, purchasers of 
office, and, most of all, administration by feudal vassals, decentralize 
the material means of administration. The local demand of the province 
and the cost of the army and of subaltern officials are regularly paid for 
in advance from local income, and only the surplus reaches the central 
treasure. The enfeoffed official administers entirely by payment out of ^ 
his own pocket. The bureaucratic state, however, puts its whole admin-, L 
istrative expense on the budget and equips the lower authorities with the i 
current means of expenditure, the use of which the state regulates and -^ 
controls. This has the same meaning for the 'economics' of the adminis- | 
tration as for the large centralized capitalist enterprise. '^ 

/ In the field of scientific research and instruction, the bureaucratization 
of the always existing research institutes of the universities is a function 
of the increasing demand for material means of management.^Liebig's 

^ A- 

224 POWER 

laboratory at Giessen University was the first example of big enterprise 
in this field. Through the concentration of such means in the hands of 
the privileged head of the institute, the mass of researchers and docents 
are separated from their 'means of production,' in the same way as 
capitalist enterprise has separated the workers from theirs. 

In spite of its indubitable technical superiority, bureaucracy has every- 
where been a relatively late development. A number of obstacles have 
contributed to this, and only under certain social and political conditions 
have they definitely receded into the background. 

9: The Leveling of Social Differences 

''' Bureaucratic organization has usually come into power on the basis_ 
of a leveling of economic and social differences. This leveling has been 
at least relative, and has concerned the significance of social and eco- 
nomic differences for the assumption of administrative functions. 
V Bureaucracy inevitably accompanies modern mass democracy in con- 
^ trast to the democratic self-government of small homogeneous units. 
5X/'^ ' This results from the characteristic principle of bureaucracy: the abstract 
-^ regularity of the execution of authority, which is a result of the demarjd 
for 'equality before the law' in the personal and functional sense—hence, 
of the horror of 'privilege,' and the principled rejection of doing business 
'from case to case.' Such regularity also follows from the social precon- 
ditions of the origin of bureaucracies. The non-bureaucratic administra- 
tion of any large social structure rests in some way upon the fact that 
existing social, material, or honorific preferences and ranks are connected 
with administrative functions and duties. This usually means that a 
direct or indirect economic exploitation or a 'social' exploitation of posi- 
tion, which every sort of administrative activity gives to its bearers, is 
equivalent to the assumption of administrative functions. 
Bureaucratization and democratization within the administration of 
^ the state therefore signify and increase the cash expenditures of -the 
public treasury. And this is the case in spite of the fact that buireau- 
cratic administration is usually more 'economical' in character than other 
forms of administration. Until recent times — at least from the point of 
view of the treasury — the cheapest way of satisfying the need for admin- 
istration was to leave almost the entire local administration and lower 
judicature to the landlords of Eastern Prussia. The same fact applies to 
the administration of sheriffs in England. Mass democracy makes a 


clean sweep of the feudal, patrimonial, and — at least in intent — the pluto- 
cratic privileges in administration. Unavoidably it puts paid professional 
labor in place of the historically inherited avocational administration by i|' >fe:.c^ 

This not only applies to structures of the state. For it is no accident 
that in their own organizations, the democratic mass parties have com- 
pletely broken with traditional notable rule based upon personal rela- 
tionships and personal esteem. Yet such personal structures frequently 
continue among the old conservative as well as the old liberal parties. / '- 

Democratic mass parties are bureaucratically organized under the lead- 
ership of party officials, professional party and trade union secretaries, 
et cetera. In Germany, for instance, this has happened in the Social 
Democratic party and in the agrarian mass-movement; and in England, 
for the first time, in the caucus democracy of Gladstone-Chamberlain, 
which was originally organized in Birmingham and since the 1870's has 
spread. In the United States, both parties since Jackson's administration 
have developed bureaucratically. In France, however, attempts to organ- 
ize disciplined political parties on the basis of an election system that 
would compel bureaucratic organization have repeatedly failed. The 
resistance of local circles of notables against the ultimately unavoidable 
bureaucratization of the parties, which would encompass the entire coun- 
try and break their influence, could not be overcome. Every advance of 
the simple election techniques, for instance the system of proportional elec- 
tions, which calculates with figures, means a strict and inter-local bureau- 
cratic organization of the parties and therewith an increasing domina- 
tion of party bureaucracy and discipline, as well as the elimination of 
the local circles of notables — at least this holds for great states. 

The progress of bureaucratization in the state administration itself is |[ "] 
a parallel phemmienorrioF^^'^^^^^^y' '^^ ^^ quite obvious in France, 
North America, and now in England. Of course one must always re- 
member that the term 'democratization' can be misleadmg. Ihe demos 
itself, in the sense of an inarticulate mass, never 'governs' larger associa-i 
tions; rather, it is governed, and its existence only changes the way ini 
which the executive leaders are selected and the measure of influence 
which the demos, or better, which social circles from its midst are able 
to exert upon the content and the direction of administrative activities 
by supplementing what is called 'public opin ion.' 'Democratization,' in 
the sense here intended, does not necessarily mean an i ncreasingly a ctive 

226 POWER 

share of the governed in the authority o£ the social structure. This may 
be a result of democratization, but it is not necessarily the case. 

We must expressly recall at this point that the political concept of 
[: democracy, deduced from the 'equal rights' of the governed;,"^ includes 
' these postulates: (i) prevention of the development of a closed status 
group of officials in the interest of a universal accessibility of office, and 
(2) minimization of the authority of officialdom in the interest of 
expanding ^ the sphere of influence of 'public opinion' as far as practi- 
cable. Hence, wherever possible, political democracy strives to shorten the 
term of office by election and recall and by not binding the candidate to 
a special expertness. Thereby democracy inevitably comes into conflict 
with the bureaucratic tendencies which, by its fight against notable rule, 
democracy has produced. The generally loose term 'democratization' 
cannot be used here, in so far as it is understood to mean the minimiza- 
tion of the civil servants' ruling power in favor of the greatest possible 
'direct' rule of the demos, which in practice means the respective party 
V leaders of the demos. The most decisive thing here — indeed it is rather 
exclusively so — is the leveling of the governed in opposition to the ruling 
and bureaucratically articulated group, which in its turn may occupy a 
quite autocratic position, both in fact and in form. 

In Russia, the destruction of the position of the old landed nobility 
through the regulation of the Mjeshtshitelstvo (rank order) and the 
permeation of the old nobility by an office nobility were characteristic 
transitional phenomena in the development of bureaucracy. In China, 
the estimation of rank and the qualification for office according to the 
number of examinations passed mean something similar, but they have 
had consequences which, in theory at least, are still sharper. In France, 
the Revolution and still more Bonapartism have made the bureaucracy 
all-powerful. In the Catholic Church, first the feudal and then all inde- 
pendent local intermediary powers were eliminated. This was begun 
by Gregory VII and continued through the Council of Trent, the Vatican 
Council, and it was completed by the edicts of Pius X. The transforma- 
tion of these local powers into pure functionaries of the central authority 
were connected with the constant increase in the factual significance of 
the formally quite dependent chaplains, a process which above all was 
based on the political party organization of Catholicism. Hence this 
..'process meant an advance of bureaucracy and at the same time of 
'passive democratization,' as it were, that is, the leveling of the gov- 
erned. The substitution of the bureaucratic army for the self-equipped 



army of notables is everywhere a process of 'passive' democratization, in 
the sense in which every establishment of an absolute military monarchy 
in the place of a feudal state or of a republic of notables is. This has 
held, in principle, even for the development of the state in Egypt in 
spite of all the peculiarities involved. Under the Roman principate the 
bureaucratization of the provincial administration in the field of tax 
collection, for instance, went hand in hand with the elimination of the 
plutocracy of a capitalist class, which, under the Republic, had been 
all-powerful. Ancient capitaHsm itself was finally eliminated with this 

It is obvious that almost always economic conditions of some sort 
play their part in such 'democratizing' developments. Very frequently 
we meet with the influence of an economically determined origin of 
new classes, whether plutocratic, petty bourgeois, or proletarian in char- 
acter. Such classes may call-£)n the aid of, or they may only call to life or 
recall to life, a political power, no matter whether it is of legitimate or 
of Caesarist stamp. They may do so in order to attain economic or social 
advantages by political assistance. On the other hand, there are equally 
possible and historically documented cases in which initiative came 
'from on high' and was of a purely political nature and drew advan- 
tages from political constellations, especially in foreign affairs. Such 
leadership exploited economic and social antagonisms as well as class 
interests merely as a means for their own purpose of gaining purely 
political power. [For this reason, political authority has thrown the antag- 
onistic classes out of their almost always unstable equilibrium and called 
their latent interest conflicts into battle. It seems hardly possible to give 
a general statement of this. 

The extent and direction of the course along which economic influ- 
ences have moved, as well as the nature in which political power relations 
exert influence, vary widely. In Hellenic Antiquity, the transition to 
disciplined combat by Hoplites, and in Athens, the increasing impor- 
tance of the navy laid the foundation for the conquest of political power 
by the strata on whose shoulders the military burden rested. In Rome, 
however, the same development shook the rule of the office nobility 
only temporarily and seemingly. Although the modern mass army has 
everywhere been a means of breaking the power of notables, by itself it 
has in no way served as a leverage for active, but rather for merely 
passive, democratization. One contributing factor, however, has been the 
fact that the ancient citizen army rested economically upon self-equip- 

228 POWER 

ment, whereas the modern army rests upon the bureaucratic procure- 
ment of requirements. 
The advance of the bureaucratic structure rests upon 'technical' superi- 
' ority. This fact leads here, as in the whole field of technique, to the 
following: the advance has been realized most slowly where older struc- 
tural forms have been technically well developed and functionally ad- 
justed to the requirements at hand. This was the case, for instance, in 
the administration of notables in England and hence England was the 
slowest of all countries to succumb to bureaucratization or, indeed, is 
still only partly in the process of doing so. The same general phenom- 
enon exists when highly developed systems of gaslight or of steam rail- 
roads with large and fixed capital offer stronger obstacles to electrifi- 
cation than in completely new areas which are opened up for electrifi- 

10 : The Permanent Character of the Bureaucratic Machine 

t ' ]>^ Once it is fully estabHshed, bureaucracy is among those social struc- 
tures which are the hardest to destroy. Bureaucracy is the means of carry- 

\ ing 'community action' over into rationally ordered 'societal action.' 
Therefore, as an instrument for 'societalizing' relations of power, bu- 
reaucracy has been and is a p ower instr ument of the first order — for 
the one who controls the bureaucratic apparatus. 

Under otherwise equal conditions, a 'societal action,' which is method- 
ically ordered and led, is superior to every resistance of 'mass' or even 
of 'communal action.' And where the bureaucratization of administra- 
tion has been completely carried through, a form of power relation is 
established that is practically unshatterable. 

The individual bureaucrat cannot squirm out of the apparatus in 
which he is harnessed. In contrast to the honorific or avocational 'nota- 
ble,' the professional bureaucrat is chained to his activity by his entire 
material and ideal existence. In the great majority of cases, he is only 
a single cog in an ever-moving mechanism which prescribes to him 
an essentially fixed route of march. The official is- entrusted with 
specialized tasks and normally the mechanism cannot be put into motion 
or arrested by him, but only from the very top. The individual bureau- 
- crat is thus forged to the community of all the functionaries who are 
integrated into the mechanism. They have a common interest in seeing 


that the mechanism continues its functions and that the societally exer- 
cised authority carries on. 

The ruled, for their part, cannot dispense with or replace the bureau- 
cratic apparatus of authority once it exists. For this bureaucracy rests 
upon expert training, a functional specialization of work, and an attitude 
set for habitual and virtuoso-like mastery of single yet methodically 
integrated functions. If the official stops working, or if his work is force- 
fully interrupted, chaos results, and it is difficult to improvise replace- 
ments from among the governed who are fit to master such chaos. This 
holds for public administration as well as for private economic manage- 
ment. /More and more the material fate of the masses depends upon the 
steady and correct functioning of the increasingly bureaucratic organiza- 
tions of private capitalism. The idea of eliminating these organizations 
becomes more and more Utopian. 

The discipHne of officialdom refers to the attitude-set of the official 
for precise obedience within his habitual activity, in public as well as in 
private organizations. This discipline increasingly becomes the basis of 
all order, however great the practical importance of administration on 
■the basis of the filed documents may be. The naive idea of Bakuninism 
of destroying the basis of 'acquired rights' and 'domination' by destroy- 
ing public documents overlooks the settled orientation of man for keep- 
ing to the habitual rules and regulations that continue to exist independ- 
ently of the documents. Every reorganization of beaten or dissolved 
troops, as well as the restoration of administrative orders destroyed by 
revolt, panic, or other catastrophes, is realized by appealing to the trained 
orientation of obedient compliance to such orders. Such compliance has 
been conditioned into the officials, on the one hand, and, on the other 
hand, into the governed. If such an appeal is successful it brings, as it 
were, the disturbed mechanism into gear again. 

The objective indispensability of the once-existing apparatus, with its 
peculiar, 'i mperso nal' character, means that the mechanism — in contrast 
to feudal orders based upofi personal piety — is easily made to work for 
anybody who knows how to gain control over it. A rationally ordered 
system of officials continues to function smoothly after the enemy has 
occupied the area; he merely needs to change the top officials. This body 
of officials continues to operate because it is to the vital interest of every- 
one concerned, including above all the enemy. 

During the course of his long years in power, Bismarck brought his 
ministerial colleagues into unconditional bureaucratic dependence by 

230 POWER 

eliminating all independent statesmen. Upon his retirement, he saw to 
his surprise that they continued to manage their offices unconcerned and 
undismayed, as if he had not been the master mind and creator of these 
creatures, but rather as if some single figure had been exchanged for 
some other figure in the bureaucratic machine. With all the changes of 
masters in France since the time of the Fircf Empire, the power machine 
has remained essentially the same. Such a machine makes 'revolution,' 
in the sense of the forceful creation of entirely new formations of author- 
ity, technically more and more impossible, especially when the apparatus 
controls the modern means of communication (telegraph, et cetera) and 
also by virtue of its internal rationaHzed structure. In classic fashion, 
France has demonstrated how this process has substituted coups d'etat 
for 'revolutions': all successful transformations in France have amounted 
to coups d'etat. 

11: Economic and Social (J^onsequences of Bureaucracy 

It is clear that the bureaucratic organization of a social structure, and 
especially of a political one, can and regularly does have far-reaching eco- 
nomic consequences. But what sort of consequences.'' Of course in any 
individual case it depends upon the distribution of economic and social 
power, and especially upon the sphere that is occupied by the emerging 
bureaucratic mechanism. The consequences of bureauaracydepend there- 
fore upon the direction which the power§_ using the appai iitus giv e 
to it. And very frequently a crypto-plutocratic disrrihurio n of power has 
been the result. -^ 

In England, but especially in the United States, party donors regularly 
stand behind the bureaucratic party organizations. They have financed 
these parties and have been able to influence them to a large extent. 
The breweries in England, the so-called 'heavy industry,' and in Ger- 
many the Hansa League with their voting funds are well enough known 
as pohtical donors to parties. In modern times bureaucratization and 
social leveling within political, and particularly within state organiza- 
tions in connection with the destruction of feudal and local privileges, 
have very frequently benefited the interests of capitaHsm. Often bureauc- 
ratization has been carried out in direct alliance with capitalist interests, 
for example, the great historical alliance of the power of the absolute 
prince with capitalist interests. In general, a legal leveling and destruction 
of firmly established local structures ruled by notables has usually made 


for a wider range of capitalist activity.' Yet one may expect as an effect 
of bureaucratization, a policy that meets the -petty bourgeois interest in 
a secured traditional 'subsistence,' or even a state socialist policy that 
strangles opportunities for private profit. This has occurred in several 
cases of historical and far-reaching importance, specifically during an- 
tiquity; it is undoubtedly to be expected as a future development. Perhaps 
it will occur in Germany. 

The very different effects of political organizations which were, at 
least in principle, quite similar — in Egypt under the Pharaohs and in 
Hellenic and Roman times — show the very different economic signifi- 
cances of bureaucratization which are possible according to the direction 
of other factors. The mere fact of bureaucratic organization does not 
unambiguously tell us about the concrete direction of its economic 
effects, which are always in some manner present. At least it does not 
tell us as much as can be told about its relatively leveling effect socially. •,*(" 
In this respect, one has to remember that bureaucracy as such is a pre- 
cision instrument which can put itself at the disposal of quite varied — 
purely political as well as purely economic, or any other sort — of interests 
in domination. Therefore, the measure of its parallelism with democ- 
ratization must not be exaggerated, however typical it may be. Under 
certain conditions, strata of feudal lords have also put bureaucracy into 
their service. There is also the possibility — and often it has become a fact, <^cA"^)r 
for instance, in the Roman principate and in some forms of absolutist ^^^\.- 
state structures — that a bureaucratization of administration is deliber- ^^ 
ately connected with the formation of estates, or is entangled with them 
by the force of the existing groupings of social power. The express 
reservation of for certain status groups is very frequent, and actual - 
reservations are even more frequent. The democratization of society in |, 
its totality, and in the modern sense of the term, whether actual or per- i| 
haps mer-ely formal, is an especially favorable basis of bureaucratization, '"*t 
but by no means the only possible one^ After all, bureaucracy strives 
merely to level those powers that stand in its way and in those areas - 
that, in the individual case, it seeks to occupy. We must remember this 
fact — which we have encountered several times and which we shall have i 
to discuss repeatedly: that 'democracy' as such is opposed to the 'rule' of | ^ 
bureaucracy, ' n spite and perhaps because of its unavoidable yet unin- f 
tended promotion of bureaucratization. Under certain conditions, democ- 
racy creates obvious ruptures and blockages to bureaucratic organization. 

232 POWER 

Hence, in every individual historical case, one must observe in what 
" special direction bureaucratization has developed. 

12: The Pov^^r Position of Bureaucracy 

Everywhere the modern state is undergoing bureaucratization. But 
whetheFthe piC^r^ of hureaucfMy'^wixhin the polity is univ ersal l y liii:, 
creasing must here remain an open question. 

The fact that bureaucratic organization is technically the most highly 
developed means of power in the hands of the man who contr ols itHo es 
1^ not determine the weight that bureaucracy as such is capable of having 
in a particular sociaT structure. The ever-increasing 'indispensability' of 
the officialdom, swollen to millions, is no more decisive for this question 
than is the view of some representatives of the proletarian movement 
, ^ that the economic indispensability of the proletarians is decisive for the 
^ »!.V measure of their social and poHtical power position. If 'indispensability' 
•^ ' were decisive, then where slave labor prevailed 'and where freemen 
usually abhor work as a dishonor, the 'indispensable' slaves ought to 
have held the positions of power, for they were at least as indispensable 
^ as officials and proletarians are today. Whether the power of bureauc- 
racy as such increases cannot be decided a priori^ixom. such reasons. 
The drawing in of economic interest groups or other non-official experts, 
or the drawing in of non-expert lay representatives, the establishment of 
local, inter-local, or central parliamentary or other representative bodies, 
or of occupational associations — these seem to run directly against the 
bureaucratic tendency. How far this appearance is the truth must be 
discussed in another chapter rather than in this purely formal and typo- 
logical discussion. In general, only the following can be said here: 

Under normal conditions, the power position of a fully developed 
bureaucracy is always overtowering. The 'political master' finds himself 
in the position of the 'dilettante' who stands opposite the 'expert,' facing 
the trained official who stands within the management of administra- 
tion. This holds whether the 'master' whom the bureaucracy serves is a 
'people,' equipped with the weapons of 'legislative initiative,' the 'refer- 
endum,' and the right to remove officials, or a parliament, elected on a 
more aristocratic or more 'democratic' basis and equipped with the right 
to vote a lack of confidence, or with the actual authority to vote it. It 
holds whether the master is an aristocratic, collegiate body, legally or 


actually based on self-recruitment, or whether he is a popularly elected 
president, a hereditary and 'absolute' or a 'constitutional' monarch. 

^ Every bureaucracy seeks to increase the superiority of the profession- \ 
ally informed by keeping their knowledge and intentions secret. Bureau- .'I 
cratic administration always tends to be an administration of 'secret I 
sessions': in so far as it can, it hides its knowledge and action from 
criticism. Prussian church authorities now threaten to use disciplinary 
measures against pastors who make reprimands or other admonitory 
measures in any way accessible to third parties. They do this because 
the pastor, in making such criticism available, is 'guilty' of facilitating a 
possible criticism of the church authorities. The treasury officials of the 
Persian shah have made a secret doctrine of their budgetary art and even 
use secret script. The official statistics of Prussia, in general, make public 
only what cannot do any harm to the intentions of the power-wielding 
bureaucracy. The tendency toward secrecy in certain administrative fields 
follows their material nature: everywhere that the power interests of 
the domination structure toward the outside are at stake, whether it is 
an economic competitor of a private enterprise, or a foreign, potentially 
hostile polity, we find secrecy.,Tf it is to be successful, the management 
of diplomacy can only be publicly controlled to a very Hmited extent. 
The military administration must insist on the concealment of its most 
important measures; with the increasing significance of purely technical 
aspects, this is all the more the case. Political parties do not proceed 
differently, in spite of all the ostensible publicity of Catholic congresses 
and party conventions. With the increasing bureaucratization of party 
organizations, this secrecy will prevail even more. Commercial policy, 
in Germany for instance, brings about a concealment of production 
statistics. Every fighting posture of a social structure toward the outside 
tends to buttress the position of the group in power. 

The pure interest of the bureaucracy in power, however, is efficacious 
far beyond those areas where purely functional interests make for 
secrecy. The concept of the 'official secret' is the specific invention of 
bureaucracy, and nothing is so fanatically defended by the bureaucracy 
as this attitude, which cannot be substantially justified beyond these 
specifically qualified areas. In facing a parliament, the bureaucracy, out 
of a sure power instinct, fights every attempt of the parliament to gain 

234 POWER 

knowledge by means of its own experts or from interest groups. The 
so-called right of parliamentary investigation is one of the means by 
which parliament seeks such knowledge. Bureaucracy naturally wel- 
"~ comes a poorly informed and hence a powerless parliament — at least 
in so far as ignorance somehow agrees with the bureaucracy's interests. 
The absolute monarch is powerless opposite the superior knowledge 
' of the bureaucratic expert — in a certain sense more powerless than any 
other political head. All the scornful decrees of Frederick the Great con- 
cerning the 'abolition of serfdom' were derailed, as it were, in the course 
of their realization because the official mechanism simply ignored them 
as the occasional ideas of a dilettante. When a constitutional king agrees 
with a socially important part of the governed, he very frequently exerts 
a greater influence upon the course of administration than does the 
/'absolute monarch. The constitutional king can control these experts 
- better because of what is, at least relatively, the public character of crit- 
/ icism, whereas the absolute monarch is dependent for information solely 
"^ upon the bureaucracy. The Russian czar of the old regime was seldom 
able to accomplish permanently anything that displeased his bureaucracy 
and hurt the power interests of the bureaucrats. His ministerial depart- 
ments, placed directly under him as the autocrat, represented a con- 
glomerate of satrapies, as was correctly noted by Leroy-Beaulieu. These 
satrapies constantly fought against one another by all the means of 
personal intrigue, and, especially, they bombarded one another with 
voluminous 'memorials,' in the face of which, the monarch, as a dilet- 
tante, was helpless. 

With the transition to constitutional government, the concentration of 
the power of the central bureaucracy in one head bec ame unavo idable. 
;i Officialdom was placed under a monocratic head, the prime minister, 
through whose hands everything had to go before it got to the monarch. 
This put the latter, to a large extent, under the tutelage of the chief of 
the bureaucracy. Wilhelm II, in his well-known conflict with Bismarck, 
fought against this principle, but he had to withdraw his attack very 
soon. Under the rule of expert knowledge, the actual influence of the 
""" monarch can attain steadiness only by a continuous communication 
with the bureaucratic chiefs; this intercourse must be methodically 
planned and directed by the head of the bureaucracy. 

At the same time, constitutionalism binds the bureaucracy and the 
ruler into a cormnunity of interests against the desires of party chiefs 
for power in the parliamentary bodies. And if he cannot find support in 


parliament the constitutional monarch is powerless against the bureauc- 
racy. The desertion of the 'Great of the Reich,' the Prussian ministers 
and top officials of the Reich in November 19 18, brought a monarch into 
approximately the same situation as existed in the feudal state in 1056. 
However, this is an exception, for, on the whole, the power position of 
a monarch opposite bureaucratic officials is far stronger than it was in 
any feudal state or in the 'stereotyped' patrimonial state. This is because 
of the constant presence of aspirants for promotion, with whom the 
monarch can easily replace inconvenient and independent officials. Other 
circumstances being equal, only economically independent officials, that 
is, officials who belong to the propertied strata, can permit themselves to 
risk the loss of their offices. Today as always, the recruitment of officials 
from among propertyless strata increases the power of the rulers. Only 
officials who belong to a socially influential stratum, whom the mon- 
arch believes he must take into account as personal supporters, like 
the so-called Kanalrebellen in Prussia,® can permanently and completely 
paralyse the substance of his will. 

/ Only the. expert knowledge of private economic interest groups in the 
\ field of 'business' is superior to the expert knowledge of the bureaucracy. 
This is so because the exact knowledge of facts in their field is vital to 
the economic existence of businessmen. Errors in official statistics do not 
have direct economic consequences for the guilty official, but errors in 
the calculation of a capitaHst enterprise are paid for by losses, perhaps by 
its existence. The 'secret,' as a means of power, is, after all, more safely 
hidden in the books of an enterpriser than it is in the files of public 
authorities. For this reason alone authorities are held within narrow 
barriers when they seek to influence economic life in the capitalist 
epoch. Very frequently the measures of the state in the field of capitalism 
take unforeseen and unintended courses, or they are made illusory by the 
superior expert knowledge of interest groups. 

13: Stages in the Development of Bureaucracy 


More and more the spjciaHzed knowledge of the expert became the 
foundation for the power position of the officeholder. Hence an early 
concern of the ruler was how to exploit the special knowledge of experts 
without having to abdicate in their favor but preserve his dominant 
position. With the qualitative extension of administrative tasks and 
therewith the indispensability of expert knowledge, it typically happens 

236 POWER 

that the lord no longer is satisfied by occasional consultation with indi- 
vidual and proved confidants or even with an assembly of such men 
called together intermittently and in difficult situations. The lord begins 
to surround himself with collegiate bodies who deliberate and resolve in 
continuous session.* The Rate von Hans aus^ is a characteristic transi- 
tional phenomenon in this development. 

The position of such collegiate bodies naturally varies according to 
whether they become the highest administrative authority, or whether a 
central and monocratic authority, or several such authorities stand at 
their side. In addition, a great deal depends upon their procedure. When 
/the collegiate type is fully developed, such bodies, in principle or in fic- 
tion, meet with the lord in the chair and all important matters are 
elucidated from all points of view in the papers of the respective experts 
and their assistants and by the reasoned votes of the other members. 
The matter is then settled by a resolution, which the lord will sanction 
f/^ or reject by an edict. This kind of collegiate body is the typical form 
/^tA . in which the ruler, who increasingly turns into a ^dilettante/ at the same 
time exploits expert knowledge and — what frequently remains unnoticed 
— seeks to fend off the overpowering weight of expert knowledge and 
to maintain his dominant position in the face of experts. He keeps one 
expert in check by others and by such cumbersome procedures he seeks 
personally to gain a comprehensive picture as well .as the certainty that 
nobody prompts him to arbitrary decisions. Often the prince expects to 
assure himself a maximum of personal influence less from personally 
presiding over the collegiate bodies than from having written memo- 
randa submitted to him. Frederick William I of Prussia actually exerted 
a very considerable influence on the administration, but he almost never 
attended the coUegiately organized sessions of the cabinet ministers! He 
rendered his decisions on written presentations by means of marginal 
comments or edicts. These decisions were delivered to the ministers by 
the Feld jaeger of the Cabinett, after consultation with those servants who 
belonged to the cabinet and were personnally attached to the king. 
The hatred of the bureaucratic departments turns against the cabinet 
^ just as the distrust of the subjects turns against the bureaucrats in case 
of failure. The cabinet in Russia, as well as in Prussia and in other 
states, thus developed into a personal fortress in which the ruler, so to 

* Consdl d'Etat, Privy Council, Generaldirektoritim , Cabinett, Divan, Tsung-li Yamen, 
Wai-wti pti, etc. 


speak, sought refuge in the face of expert knowledge and the impersonal 
and functional routinization of administration. 

v^By the collegiate principle the ruler furthermore tries to fashion a sort T 
of synthesis of specialized experts into a collective unit. His success in \ 
doing this cannot be ascertained in general. The phenomenon itself, 
however, is common to very different forms of state, from the patri- 
monial and feudal to the early, bureaucratic, and it is especially typical 
for early princely absolutism. [The collegiate principle has proved itself 
to be one of the strongest educative means for 'matter-of-factness' in 
administration. It has also made possible the drawing in of socially 
influential private persons and thus to combine in some measure the 
authority of notables and the practical knowledge of private enterprisers 
with the specialized expertness of professional bureaucrats. The collegiate 
bodies were one of the first institutions to allow the development of the 
modern concept of 'public authorities,' in the sense of enduring struc- 
tures independent of the person. 

As long as an expert knowledge of administrative affairs was the 
exclusive product of a long empirical practice^ and administrative norms 
were not regulations but elements of tradition, the council of elders — 
in a manner typical often with priests, 'elder statesmen,' and notables 
participating — was the adequate form for collegiate authorities, which 
in the beginning merely gave advice to the ruler. But as such bodies 
continued to exist in the face of changing rulers, they often usurped y 
actual power. The Roman Senate and the Venetian Council, as well as 
the Athenian Areopag until its downfall and replacement by the rule of 
the demagogos acted in this manner. We must of course sharply distin- 
guish such authorities from the corporate bodies under discussion here. 
,. In spite of manifold transitions, collegiate bodies, as a type, emerge on 
the basis of the rational specialization of functions and the rule of expert ! » 
knowledge. On the other hand, they must be distinguished from ad- 
visory bodies selected from among private and interested circles, which 
are frequently found in the modern state and whose nucleus is not formed 
of officials or of former officials. These collegiate bodies must also be 
distinguished sociologically from the boards of control found in the 
bureaucratic structures of the modern private economy (economic cor- 
porations). This distinction must be made in spite of the fact that such 
corporate bodies not infrequently complete themselves by drawing in 
notables from among disinterested circles for the sake of their expert 
knowledge or in order to exploit them for representation and advertis- 

238 POWER 

ing. Normally, such bodies do not unite holders of special expert knowl- 
edge but rather the decisive representatives of paramount economic inter- 
est groups, especially the bank creditors of the enterprise — and such 
men by no means hold merely advisory positions. They have at least a 
controlling voice, and very often they occupy an actually dominant posi- 
tion. They are to be compared (not without some distortion) to the 
assemblies of the great independent holders of feudal fiefs and offices 
and other socially powerful interest groups of patrimonial or feudal 
polities. Occasionally, however, these have been the precursors of the 
'councilors' who have emerged in consequence of an increased intensity 
of administration. And even more frequently they have been precursors 
of corporations of legally privileged estates. ^_.,»_«. 

With great regularity the bureaucratic collegiate principle' has been 
. transferred from the central authority to the most varied lower authoji- 
tie^. Within locally closed, and especially within urban units, collegiate 
administration is the original form of the rule of notables, as was indi- 
cated at the beginning of this discussion. Originally it worked through 
elected, later on, usually, or at least in part, through co-opted 'coun- 
cilors,' collegiate bodies of 'magistrates,' decuriones, and 'jurors.' Such 
bodies are a normal element of organized 'self-government,' that is, the 
management of administrative affairs by local interest groups under the 
control of the bureaucratic authorities of the state. The above-mentioned 
examples of the Venetian Council and even more so of the Roman Sen- 
ate represent transfers of notable rule to great overseas empires. Normally 

,such a rule of notables is rooted in local political associations. Within 
if . . .... 

/{the bureaucratic state, collegiate administration disappears as soon as 

''I progress in the means of communication and the increasing technical 
Jj demands of administration necessitate quick and unambiguous deci- 
l| sions, and as soon as the dominant motives for full bureaucratization 
iPand monocracy, which we discussed above, push to the fore. Collegiate 
3 administration disappears when from the point of view of the ruler's 
Jl interests a strictly unified administrative leadership appears to be more 
important than thoroughness in the preparation of administrative deci- 
sions. This is the case as soon as parliamentary institutions develop and 
— usually at the same time — as criticism from the outside and publicity 

Under these modern conditions the thoroughly rationalized system of 
departmental ministers and prefects, as in France, offers significant oppor- 
tunities for pushing the old forms into the background. Probably the 


system is supplemented by the calling in of interest groups as advisory 
bodies recruited from among the economically and socially most influen- 
tial strata. ;Trhis practice, which I have mentioned above, is increasingly 
frequent and gradually may well be ordered more formally. 

This latter development seeks especially to put the concrete experience 
of interest groups into the service of a rational administration of experdy 
trained officials. It will certainly be important in the future and it further 
increases the power of bureaucracy. It is known that Bismarck sought to 
realize the plan of a 'national economic council' as a means of power 
against parliament. Bismarck, who would never have given the Reichstag 
the right of investigation in the sense of the British Parliament, re- 
proached the majority, who rejected his proposal, by stating that in the 
interest of parliamentary power the majority sought to protect officialdom 
from becoming 'too prudent.' Discussion of the position of organized 
interest groups within the administration, which may be in the offing, 
does not belong in this context. 

Only with the bureaucratization of the state and of law in general 
can one see a definite possibility of separating sharply and conceptually 
an 'objective' legal order from the 'subjective rights' of the individual I* 
which it guarantees; of separating 'public' law from 'private' law. Public '' 
law regulates the interrelationships of public authorities and their rela- 
tionships with the 'subjects'; private law regulates the relationships of 
the governed individuals among themselves. This conceptual separation 
presupposes the conceptual separation of the 'state,' as an abstract bearer; 
of sovereign prerogatives and the creator of 'legal norms,' from all per- ; ! 
sonal 'authorizations' of individuals. These conceptual forms are neces- 
sarily remote from the nature of pre-bureaucratic, and especially from 
patrimonial and feudal, structures of authority. This conceptual separa- 
tion of private and public was first conceived and realized in urban 
communities; for as soon as their officeholders were secured by periodic 
elections, the individual power-holder, even if he was in the highest 
position, was obviously no longer identical with the man who possessed 
authority 'in his own right.' Yet it was left to the complete depersonaliza- 
tion of administrative management by bureaucracy and the rational 
systematization of law to realize the separation of public and private 
fully and in principle. 

240 ^ POWER 

14: The 'Rationalization' of Education and TrainIi«ig 

We cannot here analyze the far-reaching and general cultural effects 

that the advance of the rational bureaucratic structure of domination, as 

such, develops quite independently of the areas in which it takes hold. 

Naturally, bureaucracy promotes a 'rationalist' way of life, but the con- 

^rcept of rationalism allows for widely differing contents. Quite generally, 

!cne can only say that the bureaucratization of all domination very 
strongly furthers the development of 'rational matter-o F-factness' and 
■ the personality type of the professional expert. This has far-reaching 
ramifications, but only one important element of the "pfoce 5]r"can" be 
: briefly indicated here: its effect upon the nature of training and edu- 
,; cation. 

Educational institutions on the European continent, especially the 
institutions of higher learning — the universities, as well as technical 
academies, business colleges, gymnasiums, and other middle schools — 
are dominated and influenced by the need for the kind of 'education' 
that produces a system of special examinations and the trained expert- 
ness that is increasingly indispensable for modern bureaucracy. 

The 'special examination,' in the present sense, was and is found also 
outside of bureaucratic structures proper; thus, today it is found in the 
'free' professions of medicine and law and in the guild-organized trades. 
Expert examinations are neither indispensable to nor concomitant 
phenomena of bureaucratization. The French, English, and American 
bureaucracies have for a long time foregone such examinations entirely 
or to a large extent, for training and service in party organizations have 
made up for them. 

'Democracy' also takes an ambivalent stand in the face of specialized 
examinations, as it does in the face of all the phenomena of bureaucracy 
— although democracy itself promotes these developments. Special exam- 
inations, on the one hand, mean or appear to mean a 'selection' of. those 
who quahfy from all social strata rather than a rule by notables. On the 
other hand, democracy fears that a merit system and educational certifi- 
cates will result in a privileged 'caste.' Hence, democracy fights against 
the special-examination system. 

The special examination is found even in pre-bureaucratic or semi- 
bureaucratic epochs. Indeed, the regular and earliest locus of special 
examinations is among prebendally organized dominions. Expectancies 


of prebends, first of church prebends — as in the Islamite Orient and in 
the Occidental Middle Ages — then, as was especially the case in China, 
secular prebends, are the typical prizes for which people study and are 
examined. These examinations, however, have in truth only a partially 
specialized and expert character. 

"^Thejnodern development ofjull b ureau cratization brings the^steng 
of rational , sp ecialized, jnd expert examinations irresistibly to the fore. , 
The civil-service reform gradually imports expert training and special- 
ized examinations into the United States. In all other countries this 
system also advances, stemming from its main breeding place, Germany. 
The increasing bureaucratization of administration enhances the im- 
portance of the specialized examination in England. In China, the 
attempt to replace the semi-patrimonial and ancient bureaucracy by a 
modern bureaucracy brought the expert examination; it took the place 
of a former and quite differently structured system of examinations. The 
bureaucratization of capitalism, with its demand for expertly trained 
technicians, clerks, et cetera, carries such examinations all over the world. 
Above all, the development is greatly furthered by the social prestige of 
the educational certificates acquired through such specialized examina- 
tions. This is all the more the case as the educational patent is turned 
to economic advantage. Today, the certificate of education becomes what 
the test for ances tors has been in the past, at least where the nobility has 
remained powerful: a prerequisite for equality of birth, a qualification 
for a canonship, and for state office. Vs©dt» c>r5'»'«^**^*'* 

■^The development of the diploma from universities, and busiaess and 
engineering colleges, and the universal clamor for the creation of educa- 
tional certificates in all fields make for the formation of a privileged 
stratum in bureaus and in offices. Such certificates support their holders' 
claims for intermarriages with notable families (in BiTsIhess offices people 
naturally hope for preferment with regafd'to the chief's daughter), 
claims to be admitted into the circles that adhere to 'codes of honor,' 
claims for a 'respectable' remuneration rather than remuneration for 
work done, claims for assured advancement and old-age insurance, and, 
above all, claims to monopolize socially and economically advantageous 
positions. When we hear from all sides the demand for an introduction 
of regular curricula and special examinations, the reason behind It is, of 
course, not a suddenly awakened 'thirst for education' but the desire for 
restricting the supply for these positions and their monopolization by the 
owners of educational certificates. Today, the 'examination' is the uni- 

242 POWER 

versal means of this monopolization, and therefore examinations irre- 
sistibly advance. As the education prerequisite to the acquisition of the 
educational certificate requires considerable expense and a period of 
waiting for full remuneration,! this striving means a setback for talent 
(charisma) in favor of property. For the 'intellectual' costs of educational 
certificates are always low, and with the increasing volume of such 
certificates, their intellectual costs do not increase, but rather decrease. 

The requirement of a chivalrous style of life in the old qualification 
for fiefs in Germany is replaced by the necessity of participating in its 
present rudimental form as represented by the dueling corps of the 
universities which also distribute the educational certificates. In Anglo- 
Saxon countries, athletic and social clubs fulfil the same function. The 
' -' bureaucracy, on the other hand, strives everywhere for a 'right to the 
office' by the establishment of a regular disciplinary procedure and by 
removal of the completely arbitrary disposition of the 'chief over the 
subordinate official. The bureaucracy seeks to secure the official position, 
the orderly advancement, and the provision for old age. ' In this, the 
bureaucracy is supported by the 'democratic' sentiment of the governed, 
which demands that domination be minimized. Those who hold this 
attitude believe themselves able to discern a weakening of the master's 
prerogatives in every weakening of the arbitrary disposition of the mas- 
ter over the officials. To this extent, bureaucracy, both in business offices 
and in public service, is a carriernof^^petifiL 'status' de^elopme_nt, as 
have been the quite differently structured officeholders of the past. We 
have already pointed out that these status characteristics are usually also 
exploited, and that by their nature they contribute to the technical use- 
fulness of the bureaucracy in fulfilling its specific tasks. 
, 'Democracy' reacts precisely against the unavoidable 'status' character 
! of bureaucracy. Democracy seeks to put the election of officials for short 
I terms In the place of appointed officials; it seeks to substitute the removal 
I of officials by election for a regulated procedure of discipline. Thus, 
4 democracy seeks to replace the arbitrary disposition of the hierarchically 
*" ^. superordinate 'master' by the equally arbitrary disposition of the gov- 
1 erned and the party chiefs dominating them. 

Social prestige based upon the advantage of special education and 

training as such is by no means specific to bureaucracy. On the contrary! 

But educational prestige in other structures of domination rests upon 

substantially different foundations. . i 

Expressed in slogan-like fashion, the 'cultivated man,' rather than 


the 'specialist,' has been the end sought by education and has formed 
the basis of social esteem in such various systems as the feudal, theo- 
cratic, and patrimonial structures of dominion: in the English notable 
administration, in the old Chinese patrimonial bureaucracy, as well as 
under the rule of demagogues in the so-called Hellenic democracy. 
^,The term 'cultivated man' is used here in a completely value-neutral 
sense; it is understood to mean solely that the goal of education con- 
sists in the quality of a man's bearing in life which was considered 
'cultivated,' rather than in a specialized training for expertness. The 
'cultivated' personality formed the educational ideal, which was stamped 
by the structure of domination and by the social condition for member- 
ship in the ruhng stratum. Such education aimed at a chivalrous or an 
ascetic type; or, at a literary type, as in China; a gymnastic-humanist 
type, as in Hellas; or it aimed at a conventional type, as in the case of 
the Anglo-Saxon gentleman. The quaHfication of the ruling stratum as 
such rested upon the possession of 'more' cultural quality (in the abso- 
lutely changeable, value-neutral sense in which we use the term here), 
rather than upon 'more' expert knowledge. Special military, theological, 
and juridical abihty was of course intensely practiced; but the point of 
gravity in Hellenic, in medieval, as well as in Chinese education, has 
rested upon educational elements that were entirely different from what 
was 'useful' in one's specialty. 

Behind all the present discussions of the foundations of the educa- 
tional system, the struggle of the 'specialist type of man' against the older 
type of 'cultivated man' is hidden at some decisive point. This fight is 
determined by the irresistibly expanding bureaucratization of all public 
and private relations of authority and by the ever-increasing importance 
of expert and specialized knowledge. This fight intrudes into all intimate 
cultural questions. 

During its advance, bureaucratic organization has had to overcome 
those essentially negative obstacles that have stood in the way of the level- 
ing process necessary for bureaucracy. In addition, administrative struc- 
tures based on different principles intersect with bureaucratic organiza- 
tions. Since these have been touched upon above, only some especially im- 
portant structural fiinciples will be briefly discussed here in a very simpli- 
fied schema. We would be led too far afield were we to discuss all the 
actually existing types. We shall proceed by asking the following ques- 
tions : 

I. How far are administrative structures subject to economic determina- 

244 POWER 

tion? Or, how far are opportunities for development created by other 
circumstances, for instance, the purely political? Or, finally, how far are 
developments created by an 'autonomous' logic that is solely of the tech- 
nical structure as such? 

2. We shall ask whether or not these structural principles^ in turn, re- 
lease specific economic effects, and if so, what effects. In doing this, one 
of course from the beginning has to keep his eye on the fluidity and the 
overlapping transitions of all these organizational principles. Their 'pure' 
types, after all, are to be considered merely as border cases which are 
especially valuable and indispensable for analysis. Historical realities, 
which almost always appear in mixed forms, have moved and still move 
between such pure types. 

The bureaucratic structure is everywhere a late product of development. 
The further back we trace our steps, the more typical is the absence of 
bureaucracy and officialdom in the stru':ture of domination. Bureaucracy 
has a 'rational' character : rules, means, ends, and matter-of-factness domi- 
nate its bearing. Everywhere its origin and its diffusion have therefore 
had 'revolutionary' results, in a special sense, which has still to be discussed. 
This is the same influence which the advance of rationalism in general , 
has had. The march of bureaucracy has destroyed structures of domination '' 
which had no rational character, in the special sense of the term. Hence, 
we may ask : What were these structures ? * 

* In chapters following the present one in Wirtschajt iind Gesellschaft, Weber discusses 
Patriarchialism, Patrimonialism, Feudalism, and Charismatic Authority. Chapter ix of the 
present volume presents a short discussion of charismatic authority. For comments on the 
other concepts, see the end of Chapter xi. For the way in which Weber analyzes a ' 
specific bureaucracy in terms of intersecting structural principles, sec Chapter xvii. 

iJL. Ine Oociology ol C^narisniatic Autnority 

I : The General Character of Charisma 

Bureaucratic and patriarchal structures are antagonistic i n many ways, 
yet they jiave in common a most important pecu liarity: permanience. In 
this respect they are both institutions of daily routine.'Patriarchal power 
especially is rooted in the provisioning of recurrent and normal needs of 
the workaday life. Patriarchal authority thus has its original locus in the 
economy, that is, in those branches of the economy that can be satisfied 
by means of normal routine. The patriarch is the 'natural leader' of the 
daily routine. And in this respect, the bureaucratic structure is only the 
counter-image of patriarchalism transposed into rationality. As a per- 
manent structure with a system of rational rules, bureaucracy is fashioned 
to meet calculable and recurrent needs by means of a normal routine. 

The provisioning of all demands that go beyond those of everyday 
routine has had, in principle, an entirely heterogeneous, namely, a 
charismatic, foundation; the further back we look in history, the more 
we find this to be the case. This means that the 'natural' leaders — in 
times of psychic, physical, economic, ethical, religious, political distress — 
have been neither officeholders nor incumbents of an 'occupation' in the 
present sense of the word, that is, men who have acquired expert knowl- 
edge and who serve for remuneration. The natural leaders in distress 
have been holders of specific gifts of the body and spirit; and these gifts 
have been believed to be supernatural, not accessible to everybody. The 
concept of 'charisma' is here used in a completely 'value-neutral' sense. 

The capacity of the Irish culture hero, Cuchulain, or of the Homeric 
Achilles for heroic frenzy is a manic seizure, just as is that of the 
Arabian berserk who bites his shield like a mad dog — biting around until 
he darts off in raving bloodthirstiness. For a long time it has been main- 
tained that the seizure of the berserk is artificially produced through 

Wirtschuft unci Gesellscliujt, part in, chap, g, pp. 753-7. 


246 POWER 

acute poisoning. In Byzantium, a number of 'blond beasts,' disposed to 
such seizures, were kept about, just as war elephants were formerly kept. 
Shamanist ecstasy is linked to constitutional epilepsy, the possession and 
the testing of which represents a charismatic qualification. Hence neither 
is 'edifying' to our minds. They are just as little edifying to us as is the 
kind of 'revelation,' for instance, of the Sacred Book of the Mormons, 
which, at least from an evaluative standpoint, perhaps would have to be 
called a 'hoax.' But sociology is not concerned with such questions. In 
the faith of their followers, the chief of the Mormons has proved himself 
to be charismatically qualified, as have 'heroes' and 'sorcerers.' All of 
them have practiced their arts and ruled by virtue of this gift (charisma) 
and, where the idea of God has already been clearly conceived, by virtue 
of the divine mission lying therein. This holds for doctors and prophets, 
just as for judges and military leaders, or for leaders of big hunting 

It is to his credit that Rudolf Sohm brought out the sociological pecu- 
liarity of this category of domination-structure for a historically important 
special case, namely, the historical development of the authority of the 
early Christian church. Sohm performed this task with logical con- 
sistency, and hence, by necessity, he was one-sided from a purely historical 
point of view. In principle, however, the very same state of affairs recurs 
universally, although often it is most clearly developed in the field of 

In contrast to any kind of bureaucratic organization of offices, the 
charismatic structure knows nothing of a form or oF an order ed pro- 
cedure of appointment or dismissal. It knows no regulated 'career,' 'ad- 
vancement,' 'salary,' or regulated and expert training of the holder of 
charisma or of his aids. It knows no agency of control or appeal, no 
local bailiwicks or exclusive functional jurisdictions; nor does it embrace 
permanent institutions like our bureaucratic 'departments,' which are 
independent of persons and of purely personal charisma. 
"f Charisma^ knows only inner determination and inner restraint. The 
holder, of charisma seizes the task that is adequate for him and demands 
obedience and a following by virtue of his mission. His success deter- 
mines whether he finds them. His charismatic claim breaks down if his 
mission is not recognized by those to whom he feels he has been sent. 
If they recognize him, he is their master — so long as he knows how to 
maintain recognition through 'proving' himself.^^But he does not derive 
his 'right' from their will, in the manner of an election. Rather, the 


reverse hol ds : it is the duty of those to whom he add resses his mission 
tor^cognize h im as their charismatically qualified leader. /^ 

In Chinese theory, the emperor's prerogatives are made dependent 
upon the recognition of the people. But this does not mean recognition 
of the sovereignty of the people any more than did the prophet's neces- 
sity of getting recognition from the believers in the early Christian com- 
munity. The Chinese theory, rather, characterizes the charismatic nature 
of the monarch's position, which adheres to his personal qualification 
and to his proved worth. 

Charisma can be, and of course regularly is, qualitatively particular- 
ized. This is an internal rather than an external affair, and results in the' 
quahtative barrier of the charisma holder's mission and power. In mean- 
ing and in content the mission may be addressed to a group of men who 
are delimited locally, ethnically, socially, politically, occupationally, or in 
some other way. If the mission is thus addressed to a hmited group of 
men, as is the rule, it finds its limits within their circle. 

In its economic sub-structure, as in everything else, charismatic dom- 
ination is the very opposite of bureaucratic domination. If bureaucratic 
domination depends upon regular income, and hence at least a potiori 
on a money economy and money taxes, charisma lives in, though not off, 
this world. This has to be properly understood. Frequently charisma 
quite deliberately shuns the possession of money and of pecuniary income 
per se, as did Saint Francis and many of his like; but this is of course 
not the rule. Even a pirate genius may exercise a 'charismatic' domina- 
tion, in the value-neutral sense intended here. Charismatic political heroes 
seek booty and, above all, gold. But charisma, and this is decisive, always 
rejects as undignified any pecuniary gain that is methodical and rational. 
In general, charisma rejects all rational economic conduct. 

The sharp contrast between charisma and any 'patriarchal' structure 
that rests upon the ordered base of the 'household' lies in this rejection 
of rational economic conduct. In its 'pure' form, charisma is never a 
source of private gain for its holders in the sense of economic exploita- 
tion by the making of a deal. Nor is it a source of income in the form of 
pecuniary compensation, and just as little does it involve an orderly taxa- 
tion for the material requirements of its mission. If the mission is one of 
peace, individual patrons provide the necessary means for charismatic 
structures; or those to whom the charisma is addressed provide honorific 
gifts, donations, or other voluntary contributions. In the case of charis- 
matic warrior heroes, booty represents one of the ends as well as the 


248 POWER 

material means of the mission. 'Pure' charisma is contrary to all patri- 
archal domination (in the sense of the term used here). It is the opposite 
of all ordered economy. It is the very force that disregards economy. This 
also holds, indeed precisely, where the charismatic leader is after the 
acquisition of goods, as is the case with the charismatic warrior hero. 
Charisma can do this because by its very nature it is not an 'institutional' 
and permanent structure, but rather, where its 'pure' type is at work, it 
is^the very opposite of the institutionally permanent. 
A In order to do justice to their mission, the holders of charisma, the 
master as well as his disciples and followers, must stand outside the ties 
of iRls world, outside of routine occupations, as well as ou tside the rou - 
tine obligations of family life. Bf he statutes of the Jesuit order precTudeThe 
acceptance of church offices; the members of orders are forbidden to 
own property or, according to the original rule of St. Francis, the order 
as such is forbidden to do so. The priest and the knight of an order have 
to live in celibacy, and numerous holders of a prophetic or artistic char- 
isma are actually single. All this is indicative of the unavoidable separa- 
tion from this world of those who partake ('viiriQog') of charisma. In these 
respects, the economic conditions of participation in charisma may have 
an (apparently) antagonistic appearance, depending upon the type of 
charisma — artistic or religious, for instance — and the way of life flowing 
from its meaning. Modern charismatic movements of artistic origin rep- 
resent 'independents without gainful eniployment' (in everyday language, 
rentiers). Normally such persons are the best qualified to follow a charis- 
matic leader. This is just as logically consistent as was the medieval friar's 
vow of poverty, which demanded the very opposite. 

2: Foundations and Instability of Charismatic Authority 

By its very nature, the existence of charismatic authority is specifically 
unstable. The holder may forego his charisma; he may feel 'forsaken by 
his God,' as Jesus did on the cross; he may prove to his followers that 
'virtue is gone out of him.' It is then that his mission is extinguished, 
and hope waits and searches for a new holder of charisma. The charis- 
matic holder is deserted by his following, however, (only) because pure 
charisma does not know any 'legitimacy' other than that flowing from 
personal strength, that is, one which is constantly being proved. The 
charismatic hero does not deduce his authority from codes and statutes, 
as is the case with the jurisdiction of office; nor does he~deduce~his 


authority from tradk ional custom or feudal vows of faith, as is the 
case with patrimonial power. 

The^chansjiiaticjeader gai ns and maintains authority solely by proving 
his strength in life. If he wants to be a prophet, lie must perform mira- ,1 
cles; if he wants to be a war lord, he must perform heroic deeds. Above- 
all, however, [his divine mission must 'prove' itself in that those who 
faithfully surrender to him must fare well. If they do not fare well, he is 
obviously not the master sent by the gods. 

This very serious meaning of genuine charisma evidently stands in radi- 
cal contrast to the convenient pretensions of present rulers to a 'divine 
right of kings,' with its reference to the 'inscrutable' will of the Lord, 
'to whom alone the monarch is responsible.' The genuinely charismatic 
ruler is responsible p^^cisel^Mtojhose whom he rules. He is responsible, 
for but one thing, that he personally and actually be the God-willed_ 

During these last decades we have witnessed how the Chinese mon- 
arch impeaches himself before all the people because of his sins and 
insufficiencies if his administration does not succeed in warding off some 
distress from the governed, whether it is inundations or unsuccessful 
wars. Thus does a ruler whose power, even in vestiges and theoretically, 
is genuinely charismatic deport himself. And if even this penitence does 
not reconcile the deities, the charismatic emperor faces dispossession and 
death, which often enough is consummated as a propitiatory sacrifice. 

Meng-tse's (Mencius') thesis that the people's voice is 'God's voice' 
(according to him the only way in which God speaks!) has a very specific 
meaning: if the people cease to recognize the ruler, it is expressly stated 
that he simply becomes a private citizen; and if he then wishes to be 
more, he becomes a usurper deserving of punishment. The state of affairs 
that corresponds to these phrases, which sound highly revolutionary, 
recurs under primitive conditions without any such pathos. The charis- 
matic character adheres to almost all primitive authorities with the excep- 
tion of domestic power in the narrowest sense, and the chieftain is often 
enough simply deserted if success does not remain faithful to him. 

The subjects may extend a more active or passive 'recognition' to the 
personal mission of the charismatic master. His power rests upon this 
purely factual recognition and springs from faithful devotion. It is devo- 
tion to the extraordinary and unheard-of, to what is strange to all rule 
and tradition and which therefore is viewed as divine. It is a devotion 
born of distress and enthusiasm. 

250 POWER 

Genuine charismatic domination therefore knows of no abstract legal 
codes and statutes and of no 'formal' way of adjudication. Its 'objective' 
law emanates concretely from the highly personal experience of heavenly 
grace and from the god-like strength of the hero. Charismatic domination 
means a rejection of all ties to any external order k\ favor of the exclustVe_ 
glorification of the genuine mentality of the prophet and hero. Hence, its 
attitude is revolutionary and transvalues everything; it makes a sovereign 
break with all traditional or rational norms: 'It is written, but T say iin.tP 

The specifically charismatic form of settling disputes is by way of the 
prophet's revelation, by way of the oracle, or by way of 'Solomonic' arbi- 
tration by a charismatically qualified sage. This arbitration is determined 
by means of strictly concrete and individual evaluations, which, however, 
claim absolute validity. Here lies the proper locus of 'Kadi-justice' in the 
proverbial — not the historical — sense of the phrase. In its actual historical 
appearance the jurisdiction of the Islamic Kadi is, of course, bound to 
sacred tradition and is often a highly formalistic interpretation. 

Only where these intellectual tools fail does jurisdiction rise to an 
unfettered individual act valuing the particular .case; but then it does 
indeed. Genuinely charismatic justice always acts in this manner. In its 
pure form it is the polar opposite of formal and traditional bonds, and 
it is just as free in the face of the sanctity of tradition as it is in the face 
of any rationalist deductions from abstract concepts. 

This is not the place to discuss how the reference to the aegum et 
bonum in the Roman administration of justice and the original meaning 
of English 'equity' are related to charismatic justice in general and to the 
theocratic Kadi-justice of Islamism in particular.^ Both the aegum et 
bonum and 'equity' are partly the products of a strongly rationalized 
administration of justice and partly the product of abstract conceptions 
of natural Jaw. In any case the ex bona fide contains a reference to the 
'mores' of business Ufe and thus retains just as little of a genuine irrational 
justice as does, for instance, the German judge's 'free discretion.' 

Any kind of ordeal as a means of evidence is, of course, a derivative of 
charismatic justice. But the ordeal displaces the personal authority of the 
holder of charisma by a mechanism of rules for formally ascertaining the 
divine will. This falls in the sphere of the 'routinization' of charisma, 
with which we shall deal below. 

the sociology of charismatic authority 25i 

3: Charismatic Kingship 

In the evolution of political charisma, kingship represents a particularly 
important case in the historical development of the charismatic legiti- 
mization of institutions. The king is everywhere primarily a war lord, and 
kingship evolves from charismatic heroism. 

In the form it displays in the history of civilized peoples, kingship is 
not the oldest evolutionary form of 'political' domination. By 'pofiTical" 
domination is meant a power that reaches beyond and which is, in 
principle, distinct from domestic authority» It is distinct because, in the 
first place, it is not devoted to leading the peaceful struggle of man with 
nature; it is, rather, devoted to leading in the violent conflict of one 
human community with another. 

The predecessors of kingship were the holders of all those charismatic 
powers that guaranteed to remedy extraordinary external and internal 
distress, or guaranteed the success of extraordinary ventures.y The chief- 
tain of early history, the predecessor of kingship, is still a dual figure. 
On the one hand, he is the patriarchal head of the family or sib, and on 
the other, he is the charismatic leader of the hunt and war, the sorcerer, 
the rainmaker, the medicine man — and thus the priest and the doctor — 
and finally, the arbiter. Often, yet not always, such charismatic functions 
are spht into as many special holders of charisma. Rather frequently the 
chieftain of the hunt and of war stands beside the chieftain of peace, who 
has essentially economic functions. In contrast to the latter, the chieftain 
of war acquires his charisma by proving his heroism to a voluntary fol- 
lowing in successful raids leading to victory and booty. Even the royal 
Assyrian inscriptions enumerate booties of the hunt and cedars from 
Lebanon — dragged along for building purposes — alongside figures on the 
slain enemies and the size of the walls of conquered cities, which are 
covered with skins peeled off the enemies. 

The charismatic position j[a_mong primjtives)_ isjhus acquired^witJiDUt 
regard to position in the sibs or domestic communities and without any 
ruleT^hals^everV This duahsm of charisma and everyday routine is very 
frequently found among the American Indians, for instance, among the 
Confederacy of the Iroquois, as well as in Africa and elsewhere. 

Where war and the big game hunt are absent^, the charismatic chieftain 
— the 'war lord' as we wish to call him, in contrast to the chieftain of 
peace — is absent as well. In peacetime, especially if elemental calamities. 

252 POWER 

particularly drought and diseases, are frequent, a charismatic sorcerer 
may have an essentially similar power in his hands. He is a priestly lord. 
The charisma of the war lord may or may not be unstable in nature 
according to whether or not he proves himself and whether or not there 
is any need for a war lord. He becomes a permanent figure when war- 
fare becomes a chronic state of affairs. It is a mere terminological question 
whether one wishes to let kingship, and with it the state, begin only 
when strangers are affiliated with and integrated into the community as 
subjects. For our purposes it will be expedient to continue delimiting the 
term 'state' far more narrowly. 
f The existence of the war lord as a regular figure certainly does not 
/>/^ depend upon a tribal rule over subjects of other tribes or upon individual 
'"" slaves. His existence depends solely upon a chro nic state of war and upon 
a comprehensive organization set for warfare. On the other hand, the 
development of kingship into a regular royal administration does emerge 
only at the stage when a following of royal professional warriors rules 
over the working or paying masses; at least, that is often the case. The 
forceful subjection of strange tribes, however, is not an absolutely indis- 
pensable link in this development. Internal class stratification may bring 
about the very same social differentiation: the charismatic following of 
warriors develops into a ruling caste. But in every case, princely power 
and those groups having interests vested in it — that is, the war lord's 
following — strive for legitimacy as soon as the rule has become stable. 
They crave for a characteristic which would define the charismatically 
qualified ruler.^ 

JC. Ine M^eanin^ ol Discipli 



It is the fate of charisma, whenever it comes into the permanent institu- 
tions of a community, to give way to powers o£ tradition or of rational 
sociaHzation. This waning 'of charisma generally indicates the dimin- 
ishing importance of individual action. And of all those powers that 
lessen the importance of individual action, the most irresistible is rational 
discipline. ' 

The force of discipline not only eradicates personal charisma but also 
stratification by status groups; at least one of its results is the rational 
transformation of status stratification. 

The content of discipline is nothing but the consistently rationalized, 
methodically trained and exact execution of the received order, in 
which all personal criticism is unconditionally suspended and the actor 
is unswervingly and exclusively set for carrying out the command. In 
addition, this conduct under orders is uniform. Its quality as the com- 
munal action af a mass organization conditions the specific effects of such 
uniformity. Those who obey are not necessarily a simultaneously obedient 
or an especially large mass, nor are they necessarily united in a specific 
locality. What is decisive for discipline is that the obedience of a plurality 
of men is rationally uniform. 

Discipline as such is certainly not hostile to charisma or to status group 
honor. On the contrary, status groups that are attempting to rule over 
large territories or large organizations — the Venetian aristocratic coun- 
selors, the Spartans, the Jesuits in Paraguay, or a modern officer corps 
with a prince at its head — can maintain their alertness and their superior- 
ity over their subjects only by means of a very strict discipline. This dis- 
cipline is enforced within their own group, for the blind obedience of 
subjects can be secured only by training them exclusively for submission 
under the disciplinary code. The cultivation of a stereotyped prestige and 
style of life of a status group, only for reasons of discipline, will have a 

'Legitimacy,' Wirtschajt und Gesellschaft, part in, chap. 5, pp. 642-9. 


254 POWER 

Strongly conscious and rationally intended character. This factor effects 
all culture in any way influenced by these status communities; we shall 
not discuss these effects here. A charismatic hero may make use of dis- 
cipline in the same way; indeed, he must do so if he wishes to expand 
his sphere of domination. Thus Napoleon created a strict disciplinary 
organization for France, which is still effective today. 

Discipline in general, like its most rational offspring, bureaucracy, is 
impersonal. Unfailingly neutral, it places itself at the disposal of every 
power that claims its service and knows how to promote it. This does not 
prevent bureaucracy from being intrinsically alien and opposed to char- 
isma, as well as to honor, especially of a feudal sort. The berserk with 
maniac seizures of frenzy and the feudal knight who measures swords 
with an equal adversary in order to gain personal honor are equally alien 
to discipline. The berserk is alien to it because hi '' ^rUQV '" Irratinnal; 
t he knigh t Kpransp Kl f. ■c nhjprfrivp - atUtuAo Inrlci m . 'i ttpr-rif-fartnpss. In 
place of ind iyidii?^] hern-ecstasy_Qr piety. Qf,spirit ed enthu siasm or devo- 
ti on to a leader as a per sojL.^f the cujt of 'hono r,' or the ex ercise of 
p ersonal ability a san^rt'— discipline-snbstiiutes habituation to r outin ized 
skill. In so far as discipline appeals to firm motives of an 'ethical' char- 
acter, it presupposes a 'sense of duty' and 'conscientiousness.' ('Men of 
Conscience' versus 'Men of Honor,' in Cromwell's terms.) 

The masses are uniformly conditioned and trained for discipline in 
order that their optimum of physical and psychic power in attack may 
be rationally calculated. Enthusiasm and unreserved devotion may, of 
course, have a place in discipline; every modern conduct of war weighs, 
frequently above everything else, precisely the 'moral' elements of a 
troop's endurance. Military leadership uses emotional means of all sorts 
— just as the most sophisticated techniques of religious discipline, the 
exercitia spiritualia of Ignatius Loyola, do in their way. In combat, mili- 
tary leadership seeks to influence followers through 'inspiration' and, 
even more, to train them in 'emphatic understanding' of the leader's will. 
The sociologically decisive points, however, are, first, that everything, and 
especially these 'imponderable' and irrational emotional factors, are ration- 
ally calculated — in principle, at least, in the same manner as one calculates 
the yields of coal and iron deposits. Secondly, devotion, in its purpose- 
fulness and according to its normal content, is of an objective character. It 
is devotion to a common 'cause,' to a rationally intended 'success'; it does 
not mean devotion to a person as such — however 'personally' tinged it 
may be in the concrete instance of a fascinating leader. 


The case is diflferent only when the prerogatives of a slaveholder create 
a situation of discipline— on a plantation or in a slave army of the ancient 
Orient, on galleys manned by slaves or among prisoners in Antiquity and 
the Middle Ages. Indeed, the individual cannot escape from such a 
mechanized organization, for routinized training puts him in his place 
and compels him to 'travel along.' Those w^ho are enlisted in the ranks 
are forcibly integrated into the whole. This integration is a strong ele- 
ment in the efficacy of all discipline, and especially in every war con- 
ducted in a disciplined fashion. It is the only efficacious element and— as 
caput mortuum — it always remains after the 'ethical' qualities of duty 
and conscientiousness have failed. 

I : The Origins of Discipline in War 

The conflict between discipline and individual charisma has been full 
of vicissitudes. It has its classic seat in the development of the structure 
of warfare, in which sphere the conflict is, of course, to some extent deter- 
mined by the technique of warfare. The kind of weapons — pike, sword, 
bow — are not necessarily decisive; for all of them allow disciplined as well 
as individual combat. At the beginning of the known history of the Near 
East and of the Occident, however, the importation of the horse and prob- 
ably, to some uncertain degree, the beginning of the predominance of 
iron for tools have played parts which have been epoch-making in every 

The horse brought the war chariot and with it the hero driving into 
combat and possibly fighting from his chariot. The hero has been dom- 
inant in the warfare of the Oriental, Indian, and ancient Chinese kings, 
as well as throughout Occidental societies, including the Celtic, In Ireland 
'hero combat' prevailed until late times. Horseback riding came after the 
war chariot, but persisted longer. From such horseback riding the 'knight' 
emerged — the Persian, as well as the Thessalian, Athenian, Roman, Celtic, 
and Germanic. The footman, who certainly played some part earlier in 
the development of discipline, receded in importance for quite some time. 

The substitution of iron side-arms for bronze javelins was probably 
among the factors that again pushed development in the opposite direc- 
tion, toward discipline. Yet, just as in the Middle Ages gun powder can 
scarcely be said to have brought about the transition from undisciplined 
to disciplined fighting, so iron, as such, did not bring about the change — 
for long-range and knightly weapons were made of iron. 

256 ^ POWER 

'It was the discipline of the Hellenic and Roman Hoplites^ which 
brought about the change. Even Homer, as an oft-quoted passage indi- 
cates, knew of the beginnings of discipline with its prohibition of fighting 
out of line. For Rome, the important turning-point is symbolized by the 
legend of the execution of the consul's son, who, in accordance with the 
ancient fashion of heroes, had slain the opposing war lord in individual 
combat. At first, the well-trained army of the Spartan professional soldier, 
the holy Lochos " of the Boeotians, the well-trained jam^a-equipped ^ 
phalanx of the Macedonians, and then the tactic of the highly trained, 
more mobile maniple * of the Romans, gained supremacy over the Persian 
knight, the militias of the Hellenic and Italic citizenry, and the people's 
armies of the Barbarians. In the early period of the Hellenic Hophtes, 
incipient attempts were made to exclude long range ^veapons by 'inter- 
national law' as unchivalrous, just as during the Middle Ages there were 
attempts to forbid the cross-bow. 

The kind of weapon has been the result and not the cause of discipline. 
Exclusive use of the infantry tactic of close combat during antiquity 
brought about the decay of cavalry, and in Rome the 'census of knights' 
became practically equivalent to exemption from military service. 

At the close of the Middle Ages it was the massed force of the Swiss, 
with its parallel and ensuing developments, which first broke the monop- 
oly of knighthood to wage war. And even then, the Swiss still allowed 
the Halberdiers ^ to break forth from the main force for hero combat, 
after the main force had advanced in closed formation — the pike-men 
occupying the outside positions. At first these massed forces of the Swiss 
only succeeded in dispersing the knights. And in the battles of the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries, cavalry, as such, increasingly disci- 
plined, still played a completely decisive role. Without cavalry it was still 
impossible to wage offensive wars and actually to overpower the enemy, 
as the course of the English Civil War demonstrated. 

It was discipline and not gun powder which initiated the transforma- 
tion. The Dutch army under Maurice of the House of Orange was one 
of the first modern disciplined armies. It was shorn of all status privi- 
leges; and thus, for example, the previously effective refusal of the mer- 
cenaries to do rampart work {opera servitid) became ineffective. Crom- 
well's victories — despite the fierce bravery of the Cavaliers — were due to 
sober and rational Puritan discipline. His 'Ironsides' — the 'men of con- 
science' — trotted forward in firmly closed formation, at the same time 
calmly firing, and then, thrusting, brought about a successful attack. The 


major contrast lies in the fact that after the attack they remained in 
closed formation or immediately re-aligned themselves. It was this dis- 
ciplined cavalry attack which was technically superior to the Cavaliers' 
ardor. For it was the habit of the Cavaliers to gallop enthusiastically into 
the attack and then, without discipline, to disperse, either to plunder the 
camp of the enemy or prematurely and individually to pursue single 
opponents in order to capture them for ransom. All successes were for- 
feited by such habits, as was typically and often the case in Antiquity 
and the Middle Ages (for example, at TagUacozzo). Gun powder and 
all the war techniques associated with it became significant only with the 
existence of discipline — and to the full extent only with the use of war 
machinery, which presupposes discipline. 

The economic bases upon which army organizations have been 
founded are not the only agent determining the development of discipline, 
yet they have been of considerable importance. -The discipline of well- 
trained armies and the major or minor role they have played in warfare 
reacted still more, and with more lasting effects, upon the political and 
social order. This influence, however, has been ambiguous. Discipline, as 
the basis of warfare, gave birth to pariarchal kingship among the Zulus, 
where the monarch is constitutionally limited by the power of the army 
leaders (like the Spartan Ephors) .^ Similarly, discipline gave birth to the 
Hellenic polls with its gymnasiums. 

When infantry drill is perfected to the point of virtuosity (Sparta), , 
the polls has an inevitably 'aristocratic' structure. When cities are based 
upon naval discipHne, they have 'democratic' structures (Athens), Dis- 
cipline gave rise to Swiss 'democracy,' which is quite different in nature. 
It involved a dominance (in Hellenic terms) over metics as well as . 
territorial helots, during the time when Swiss mercenaries enlisted in \ 
foreign armies. The rule of the Roman particiate, of the Egyptian, 
Assyrian, and finally of the modern European bureaucratic state organi- 
zations — all have their origin in discipline. 

War disciphne may go hand in hand with totally different economic 
conditions, as these examples show. However, discipline has always 
affected the structure of the state, the economy, and possibly the family. 
For in the past a fully disciplined army has necessarily been a professional 
army, and therefore the basic problem has always been how to provide 
for the sustenance of the warriors. 

The primeval way of creating trained troops — ever ready to strike, and 
allowing themselves to be disciplined — was warrior communism , which 

258 POWER 

we have already mentioned. It may take the form of the bachelor house 
as a kind of barracks or casino of the professional warriors; in this form 
it is spread over the largest part of the earth. Or, it may follow the pat- 
tern of the communist community of the Ligurian pirates, or of the 
Spartan syssitia organized according to the 'picnic' principle; or it may 
follow Caliph Omar's organization, or the religious knight orders of the 
Middle Ages. The warrior community may constitute, as we have noticed 
above, either a completely autonomous society closed against the outside, 
or, as is the rule, it may be incorporated into a political association whose 
territory is fixed by boundaries. As a part of such a corporate group, the 
warrior community may decisively determine its order. Thus, the re- 
cruitment of the warrior community is linked to the order of the cor- 
porate group. But this linkage is largely relative. Even the Spartans, for 
example, did not insist upon a strict 'purity of blood.' Military education 
was decisive for membership in its warrior community. 

Under warrior communism, the existence of the warrior is the perfect 
counterpart to the existence of the monk, ; whose garrisoned and com- 
munist life in the monastery also serves the purpose of disciplining him 
in the service of his master in the hereafter (and possibly also resulting 
in service to a this-worldly master). The dissociation from the family 
and from all private economic interests also occurs outside the celibate 
knight orders, which were created in direct analogy to the monk orders. 

When the institution of the bachelor house is fully developed, familial 
relations are often completely excluded. The inmates of the house pur- 
chase or capture girls, or they claim that the girls of the subject com- 
munity be at their disposal so long as they have not been sold in mar- 
riage. The children of the Ariloi — the ruling estate in Melanesia — ^are 
killed. Men can join enduring sexual communities with a separate 
economy only after having completed their 'service' in the bachelor 
house — often only at an advanced age. Stratification according to age 
groups, which with some peoples is also important for the regulation of 
sexual relationship; the alleged survivals from primitive 'endogenous 
sexual promiscuity'; the alleged survivals of a supposedly 'primeval right' 
of all comrades to all girls not yet appropriated by an individual; as well 
as 'marriage by capture' — allegedly the earliest form of marriage; and, 
above all, the 'matriarchate' — all of these might be in most cases survivals 
of such military organizations as we are discussing. These military organ- 
izations split the life of the warrior from the household and family, and. 


under conditions of chronic warfare, such organizations have been widely 

Almost everywhere the communistic warrior community may be the 
caput mortuum of the followers of charismatic war lords. Such a follow- 
ing has usually been societahzed into a chronic institution and, once 
existing in peacetime, has led to the decline of warrior chieftainship. 
Yet under favorable conditions, the warrior chief may well rise to abso- 
lute lordship over the disciplined warrior formations. Accordingly, the 
oi}{os, as the basis of a military structure, offers an extreme contrast to 
this communism of warriors who live on accumulated stores, as well as 
contributions of the women, of those unfit to bear arms, and possibly of 
serfs. The patrimonial army is sustained and equipped from the stores 
of a commanding overlord. It was known especially in Egypt, but its 
fragments are widely dispersed in military organizations of different 
natures, and they form the bases of princely despotisms. 

The reverse phenomenon, the emancipation of the warrior community 
from the unlimited power of the overlord, as evidenced in Sparta through 
the institution of the Ephors, has proceeded only so far as the interest 
in discipline has permitted. In the polis, therefore, the weakening of the 
king's power — which meant the weakening of discipline — prevailed only 
in peace and in the homeland {domi in contrast to militiae, according 
to the technical terms of Roman administrative law) . The Spartan king's 
prerogatives approached the zero point only in peacetime. In the interests 
of discipline, the king was omnipotent in the field. 

An all-around weakening of discipline usually accompanies any kind 
of decentralized military establishment — whether it is of prebendal or of 
feudal type. This weakening of discipline may vary greatly in degree. 
The well-trained Spartan army, the S'/drJQOi ^ of the other Hellenic and 
Macedonian and of several Oriental military establishments, the Turkish 
quasi-prebendal fiefs, and finally the feudal fiefs of the Japanese and 
Occidental Middle Ages — all of these were phases of economic decen- 
tralization, usually going hand in hand with the weakening of discipline 
and the rising importance of individual heroism. 

From the disciplinary aspect, just as from the economic, the feudal 
lord and vassal represents an extreme contrast to the patrimonial or j 
bureaucratic soldier. And the disciplinary aspect is a consequence of the ; 
economic aspect. The feudal vassal and lord not only cares for his own 
equipment and provisions, directs his own baggage-train, but he sum- 
mons and leads sub-vassals who, in turn, also equip themselves. 

26o POWER 

Discipline has grown on the basis of an increased concentration of the 
means of warfare in the hands of the war lord. This has been achieved 
by having a condottiere recruit mercenary armies, in part or wholly, in 
the manner of a private capitalist. Such an arrangement was dominant 
in the late Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern era. It was 
followed by the raising and equipping of standing armies by means of 
political authority and a collective economy. We shall not describe here 
in detail the increasing rationalization of procurement for the armies. It 
began with Maurice of the House of Orange, proceeded to Wallenstein, 
Gustav Adolf, Cromwell, the armies of the French, of Frederick the 
Great, and of Maria Theresa; it passed through a transition from the 
professional army to the people's army of the French Revolution, and 
from the disciplining of the people's army by Napoleon into a partly pro- 
fessional army. Finally universal conscription was introduced during 
the nineteenth century. The whole development meant, in effect, the 
clearly increasing importance of discipline and, just as clearly, the con- 
sistent execution of the economic process through which a public and 
collective economy was substituted for private capitalism as the basis for 
military organization. 

Whether the exclusive dominance of universal conscription will be 
the last word in the age of machine warfare remains to be seen. The 
shooting records of the British navy, for instance, seem to be affected by 
ensembling gun crews of professional soldiers, which allows for their 
continuation as a team through the years. The belief in the technical 
superiority of the professional soldier for certain categories of troops is 
almost sure to gain in influence, especially if the process of shortening 
the term of service — stagnating in Europe at the moment — should con- 
tinue. In several officers' circles, this view is already esoterically held. 
The introduction of a three-year period of compulsory service by the 
French army (1913) was motivated here and there by the slogan of 
'professional army' — a somewhat inappropriate slogan, since all diflferen- 
tiation of the troops into categories was absent. These still ambiguous 
possibilities, and also their possible political consequences, are not to be 
discussed here. In any case, none of them will alter the exclusive im- 

r'portance of mass discipline. What has concerned us here has been ^ to 
show that the separation of the \yarrior from the means of warf are,^ ^and 
the concentration of the means of warfare in the hands of the war lord 


have everywhere been one of the typical bases of mass discipline. And 
I this has been the case whether the process of separation and of concen- 


tration was executed in the form of oikos, capitalist enterprise, or bureau- 
cratic organizatiorn "^ ' --— ■"""*" "~ 

2: The Discipline of Large-Scale Economic Organizations 

The discipline of the army gives birth to all discipline. The large-scale 
economic organization is the second great agency which trains men for 
discipline. No direct historical and transitional organizations link the 
Pharaonic workshops and construction work (however httle detail about 
their organization is known) with the Carthaginian Roman plantation, 
the mines of the late Middle Ages, the slave plantation of colonial 
economies, and finally the modern factory. However, all of these have 
in common the one element of discipline. 

The slaves of the ancient plantations slept in barracks, living without 
family and without property. Only the managers — especially the villicus — 
had individual domiciles, somewhat comparable to the lieutenant's domi- 
cile or the residence of a manager of a modern, large-scale agricultural 
enterprise. The villicus alone usually had quasi-property {peculium, i.e. 
originally property in cattle) and quasi-marriage {contiibernium) . In 
the morning the work-slaves lined up in 'squads' (in decuriae) and were 
led to work by overseers (moniiores) ; their personal equipment (to use 
a barrack term) was stored away and handed out according to need. 
And hospitals and prison cells were not absent. The discipline of the 
manor of the Middle Ages and the modern era was considerably less 
strict because it was traditionally stereotyped, and therefore it somewhat 
limited the lord's power. 

No special proof is necessary to show that military discipline is the 
ideal model for the modern capitalist factory, as it was for the ancient 
plantation. In contrast to the plantation, organizational discipline in the 
factory is founded upon a completely rational basis. With the help of 
appropriate methods of measurement, the optimum profitability of the 
individual worker is calculated like that of any material means of pro- 
duction. On the basis of this calculation, the American system of 'scien- 
tific management' enjoys the greatest triumphs in the rational condition- 
ing and training of work performances. The final consequences are 
drawn from the mechanization and discipline of the plant, and the 
psycho-physical apparatus of man is completely adjusted to the demands 
of the outer world, the tools, the machines — in short, to an individual 
'function.' The individual is shorn of his natural rhythm as determined 

262 POWER 

by the structure of his organism; his psycho-physical apparatus is atuned 
to a new rhythm through a methodical specialization o£ separately func- 
tioning muscles, and an optimal economy of forces is established cor- 
responding to the conditions of work. This whole process of rationaliza- 
i tion, in the factory as elsewhere, and especially in the bureaucratic state 
I machine, parallels the centralization of the material implements of 

organization in the discretionary power of the overlord. 
! The ever-widening grasp of discipline irresistibly proceeds with the 
' rationalization of the supply of economic and political demands. This 
universal phenomenon increasingly restricts the importance of charisma 
l and of individually differentiated conduct. 

3: Discipline and Charisma 

Charisma, as a creative power, recedes in the face of domination, 
I which hardens into lasting institutions, and becomes efficacious only in 
J short-lived mass emotions of incalculable effects, as on elections and 
j similar occasions. Nevertheless charisma remains a highly important 
■ element of the social structure, although of course in a greatly changed 

We must now return to the economic factors, already mentioned 
above, which predominantly determine the routinization of charisma: 
'• the need of social strata, privileged through existing political, social, and 
\/ economic orders, to have their social and economi c positions 'legitimized.' 
They wish to see their positions transformed from purelyfactual power 
relations into a cosmos of acquired rights, and to know that they are 
thus sanctified. These interests comprise by far the strongest motive for 
the conservation of charismatic elements of an objectified nature within 
the structure of domination. Genuine charisma is absolutely opposed to 
this objectified fornjc^lt does not appeal to an enacted or traditional order, 
nor does it base its claims upon acquired rights. Genuine charisma rests 
upon the legitimation of personal heroism or personal revelation. Yet 
precisely this quality of charisma as an extraordinary, supernatural, divine 
power transforms it, after its routinization, into a suitable source for the 
legitimate acquisition of sovereign power by the successors of the charis- 
matic hero. Routinized charisma thus continues to work in favor of all 
those whose power and possession is guaranteed by that sovereign power, 
and who thus depend upon the continued existence of such power. 
The forms in which a ruler's charismatic legitimation may express 


itself vary according to the relation of the original charismatic power- 
holder with the supernatural powers. If the ruler's legitimation cannot 
be determined, according to unambiguous rules, through hereditary 
charisma, he is in need of legitimation through some other charismatic 
power. Normally, this can only be hierocratic power. This holds expressly 
for the sovereign who represents a divine incarnation, and who thus 
possesses the highest 'personal charisma.' Unless it is supported and 
proved by personal deeds, his claim of charisma requires the acknowl- 
edgment of professional experts in divinity. Incarnated monarchs are 
indeed exposed to-the peculiar process of interment by close court officials 
and priests, who are materially and ideally interested in legitimacy. This 
seclusion may proceed to a permanent palace arrest and even to killing 
upon maturity, lest the god have occasion to compromise divinity or to 
free himself from tutelage* Yet generally, according to the genuine view 
as well as in practice, the weight of responsibility which the charismatic 
ruler must carry before his subjects works very definitely in the direction 
of the need for his tutelage. 

It is because of their high charismatic qualifications that such rulers 
as the Oriental Caliph, Sultan, and Shah urgently need, even nowadays 
(1913), a single personality to assume responsibility for governmental 
actions, especially for failures and unpopular actions. This is the basis 
for the traditional and specific position of the 'Grand Vizier' in all those 
realms. The attempt to abolish and replace the office of the Grand Vizier 
by bureaucratic departments under ministers with the Shah's personal 
chairmanship failed in Persia during the last generation. This change 
would have placed the Shah in the role of a leader of the administration, 
personally responsible for all its abuses and for all the sufferings of the 
people. This role not only would have continuously jeopardized him, 
but would have shaken the belief in his very 'charismatic' legitimacy. 
The office of Grand Vizier with its responsibilities had to be restored in 
order to protect the Shah and his charisma. 

The Grand Vizier is the Oriental counterpart of the position of the 
responsible prime minister of the Occident, especially in parliamentary 
states. The formula, le roi regne mats il ne gouverne pas, and the theory 
that, in the interest of the dignity of his position, the king must not 
'figure without ministerial decorations,' or, that he must abstain entirely 
from intervening in the normal administration directed by bureaucratic 
experts and specialists, or that he must abstain from administration in 
favor of the political party leaders occupying ministerial positions — all 

264 POWER 

these theories correspond entirely to the enshrinement of the deified, 
patrimonial sovereign by the experts in tradition and ceremony: priests, 
court officers, and high dignitaries. In all these cases the sociological nature 
of charisma plays just as great a part as that of court officials or party 
leaders and their foUowings. Despite his lack of parliamentary power, 
the constitutional monarch is preserved, and above all, his mere existence 
and his charisma guarantee the legitimacy of the existing social and 
property order, since decisions are carried out 'in his name.' Besides, all 
those interested in the social order must fear for the belief in 'legality' 
lest it be shaken by doubts of its legitimacy. 

A president elected according to fixed rules can formally legitimize 
the governmental actions of the respective victorious party as 'lawful,' 
just as well as a parliamentary monarch. But the monarch, in addition 
to such legitimation, can perform a function which an elected president 
can not fulfil: a parliamentary monarch formally delimits the politicians' 
quest for power, because the highest position in the state is occupied 
once and for all. From a political point of view this essentially negative 
function, associated with the mere existence of a king enthroned accord- 
ing to fixed rules, is of the greatest practical importance. Formulated 
positively it means, for the archetype of the species, that the king cannot 
gain an actual share in political power by prerogative (kingdom of pre- 
rogative). He can share power only by virtue of outstanding personal 
ability or social influence (kingdom of influence). Yet he is in position to 
exert this influence in spite of all parliamentary government, as events 
and personaHties of recent times have shown. 

'Parliamentary' kingship in England means a selective admission to 
actual power for that monarch who qualifies as a statesman. But a mis- 
step at home or in foreign affairs, or the raising of pretensions that do 
not correspond with his personal abilities and prestige, may cost him 
his crown. Thus English parliamentary kingship is formed in a more 
genuinely charismatic fashion than kingships on the Continent. On the 
Continent, mere birth-right equally endows the fool and the political 
genius with the pretensions of a sovereign. 

Part III 


X.i. Ine oocial xsycnology ol tne VVorlo 

By 'world religions,' we understand the five religions or religiously deter- 
mined systems of life-regulation which have known how to gather 
multitudes of confessors around them. The term is used here in a com- 
pletely value-neutral sense. The Confucian, Hinduist, Buddhist, Chris- 
tian, and Islamist religious ethics all belong to the category of world 
religion. A sixth religion, Judaism, will also be dealt with. It is included 
because it contains historical preconditions decisive for understanding 
Christianity and Islamism, and because of its historic and autonomous 
significance for the development of the modern economic ethic of the 
Occident — a significance, partly real and partly alleged, which has been 
discussed several times recently. References to other religions will be 
made only when they are indispensable for historical connections.^ 

What is meant by the 'economic ethic' of a religion will become in- 
creasingly clear during the course of our presentation. This term does 
not bring into focus the ethical theories of theological compendia; for 
however important such compendia may be under certain circumstances, 
they merely serve as tools of knowledge. Th e term 'economic ethic' 
points tojhe practical impulses for action which are founded in the 
nsycho^ical and pragmatic contexts of religions. The following presen- 
tation may be sketchy, but it will make obvious how complicated the 
structures and how many-sided the conditions of a concrete economic 
ethic usually are. Furthermore, it will show that externally similar forms 
of economic organization may agree with very different economic ethics 

'Die Wirtschaftsethik der Weltreligionen,' Gesammelte Attjsaetze zur Religionssoziologie 
(Tubingen, 1922-3), vol. i, pp. 237-68. This is a translation o£ the Introduction to a 
series of studies which Weber published as articles in the Archiv ftir Sozialforschting under 
the title 'Die Wirtschaftsethik der Weltreligionen' (The Economic Ethic of the World 
Religions). The Introduction and the first parts on Confucianism and Taoism were written 
in 1 91 3. They were not published until September 1915, in the 41st volume of the 



and, according to the unique character of their economic ethics, how 
such forms of economic organization may produce very different his- 
torical results. An economic ethic is not a simple 'function' of a form 
of economic organization; and just as little does the reverse hold, namely, 
that economic ethics unambiguously stamp the form of the economic 
/, organization. 

w/ Nq economic ethic has ever been determined solely by religion. In the 
)^ face of man's attitudes to wards the~w6rld — as determined by religious or 
»p other (in our sense) 'inner' factors — an economic ethic has, of course, a 
high measure of autonomy. Given factors of economic geography and 
histor,y_determine this measure of autonomy~in the highest degree. The 
V'eligious determination of life-conduct, however, is also one — note this — 
only one, of the determinants of the economic ethic^Of course, the reli- 
giously determined way of life is itself profoundly influenced by economic 
and political factors operating within given geographical, political, social, 
and national boundaries. We should lose ourselves in these discussions 
if we tried to demonstrate these dependencies in all their singularities. 
Here we can only attempt to peel oflF the directive elements in the life- 
conduct of those social strata which have most strongly influenced the 
practical ethic of their respective religions. These elements have stamped 
the most characteristic features upon practical ethics, the features that 
distinguish one ethic from others; and, at the same time, they have been 
important for the respective economic ethics. 

By no means must we focus upon only one stratum. Those strata which 
are decisive in stamping the characteristic features of an economic ethic 
may change in the course of history. And the influence of a single 
stratum is never an exclusive one. Nevertheless, as a rule one may deter- 
mine the strata whose styles of life have been at least predominantly 
decisive for certain religions. Here are some examples, if one may antici- 

Confucianism was the status ethic of prebendaries, of men with literary 
educations who were characterized by a secular rationalism. If one did 
not belong to this cultured stratum he did not count. The religious (or 
if one wishes, irreligious) status ethic of this stratum has determined 
the Chinese way of life far beyond the stratum itself. 

Earlier Hinduism was borne by a hereditary caste of cultured literati, 
who, being remote from any office, functioned as a kind of ritualist and 
spiritual advisers for individuals and communities. They formed a stable 
center for the orientation of the status stratification, and they placed 


their stamp upon ihe_social order. Only Brahmans, educated in the Veda, 
formed, as bearers of tradition, the fully recognized religious status group. 
An^ only later a non-Brahman status group of ascetics emerged by the 
side of the Brahmans and competed with them. Still later, during the 
Indian Middle Ages, Hinduism entered the plain. It represented the 
ardent " sacramental religiosity of the savior, and was borne by the lower 
strata with their plebeian mystagogues. 

Buddhism was propagated by strictly contemplative, mendicant monks, 
who] rejected the world and, having no homes, migrated. Only these 
were full members of the religious community; all others remained 
religious laymen of inferior value: objects, not subjects, of religiosity. 

During its first period, Islamism was a religion of world-conquering 
warriors, a knight order of disciplined crusaders. They lacked only the 
sexual asceticism of their Christian copies of the age of the Crusades. 
But during the Islamic Middle Ages, contemplative and mystical Sufism ^ 
attained at least an equal standing under the leadership of plebeian tech- 
nicians of orgiastics. The bfotherhoods of the petty bourgeoisie grew out 
of Sufism in a manner similar to the Christian Tertiarians, except they 
were far more universally developed. 

Since the Exile, Judaism has been the religion of a civic 'pariah people.' 
We shall in time become acquainted with the precise meaning of the 
term. During the Middle Ages Judaism fell under the leadership of a 
stratum of intellectuals who were trained in literature and ritual, a 
peculiarity of Judaism. This stratum has represented an increasingly 
quasi-proletarian and rationalist petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. 

Ch ristia nity, finally, began its course as a doctrine of itinerant artisan 
journeymen. During all periods of its mighty external and internal de- 
velopment it has been a quite specifically urban, and above all a civic, 
j-digio-ci. This was true during Antiquity, during the Middle Ages, and 
in Puritanism. The city of the Occident, unique among all other cities 
of- the world — and citizenship, in the sense in which it has emerged only 
in the Occident — has been the major theatre for Christianity. This holds 
for the pneumatic piety of the ancient religious community, for the 
mendicant monk orders of the high Middle Ages, and for the [Protest- 
ant] sects of the reformation up to pietism and methodism. 

It is not our thesis that the specific nature of a religion is a simple 
'function' of the social situation of the stratum which appears as its 
characteristic bearer, or that it represents the stratum's 'ideology,' or that 


it is a 'reflection' of a stratum's material or ideal interest-situation. On 
the contrary, a more basic misunderstanding of the standpoint of these 
discussions would hardly be possible. 

However incisive the social influences, economically and politically 
, determined, may have been upon a religious ethic in a particular case, 
it "deceives its stamp primarily from religious sources, and, first of all, 
from the content of its annunciation and its promise. Frequently the very 
next generation reinterprets these annunciations and promises in a funda- 
mental fashion. Such reinterpretations adjust the revelations to the needs 
of the religious community. If this occurs, then it is at least usual that 
religious doctrines are adjusted to religious needs J^ Other spheres of in- 
terest could have only a secondary influence; often, however, such influ- 
ence is very obvious and sometimes it is decisive. 

For every religion we shall find that a change in the socially decisive 
strata Has usually been of profound importance. On the other hand, the 
type of a religion, once stamped, has usually exerted a rather far-reaching 
influence upon the life-conduct of very heterogeneous strata. In various 
ways people have sought to interpret the connection between religious 
ethics and interest-situations in such a way that the former appear as 
mere 'functions' of the latter. Such interpretation occurs in so-called his- 
torical materialism — which we shall not here discuss — as well as in a 
purely psychological sense. 

A quite general and abstract class-determination of religious ethics 
might be deduced from the theory of 'resentment,' known since Friedrich 
Nietzsche's brilliant essay and since then spiritedly treated by psycholo- 
gists. As is known, this theory regards the moral glorification of mercy 
and brotherliness as a 'slave revolt in morals' among those who are dis- 
advantaged, either in their natural endowments or in their opportunities 
as determined by life-fate. The ethic of 'duty' is thus considered a product 
of 'repressed' sentiments for vengeance on the part of banausic men who 
'displace' their sentiments because they are powerless, and condemned to 
work and to money-making. They resent the way of life of the lordly 
stratum who live free of duties. A very simple solution of the most 
important problems in the typology of religious ethics would obviously 
result if this were the case. However fortunate and fruitful the dis- 
closure of the psychological significance of resentment as such has been, 
great caution is necessary in estimating its bearing for social ethics. 

Later we shall have to discuss the motives that have determined the 
different forms of ethical 'rationalization' of life conduct, per se. In the 


main, these have had HOthmg Whatsoever to do with resentment. But 
that the evaluation »f suffering in reHgious ethics has been subject to a 
typical change is beyOTwijdQiibtrlf properly understood, this change car- 
ries a certain justification for the theory first worked out by Nietzsche. 
The primeval attitude towards suffering has been thrown into relief 
most drastically during the religious festivities of the community, espe- 
cially in the treatment of those haunted by disease or other cases of ob- 
stinate misfortune. Men, permanently suffering, mourning, diseased, or 
otherwise unfortunate, were, according to the nature of their suffering, 
believed either to be possessed by a demon or burdened with the wrath 
of a god whom they had insulted. To tolerate such men in the midst of 
the cultic community could result in disadvantages for it. In any case, 
they were not allowed to participate in cultic feasts and sacrifices, for the 
gods did not enjoy the sight of them and could be incited to wrath by 
it. The sacrificial feasts were occasions for rejoicing — even in Jerusalem 
during times of siege. 

In treating suffering as a symptom of odiousness in the eyes of the 
gods and as a sign of secret guilt, religion has psychologically met a 
very_general need.. The fortunate is seldom satisfied with the fact of be- 
ing fortunate. Beyond this, he needs to know that he has a right to his 
good fortune. He wants to be convinced that he 'deserves' it, and above 
all, that he deserves it in comparison with others. He wishes to be al- 
lowed the belief that the less fortunate also merely experience his due. 
Good fortune thus wants to be 'legitimate' fortune. 

If the general term 'fortune' covers all the 'good' of honor, power, 
possession, and pleasure, it is the most general formula for the service 
of legitimation, which religion has had to accomplish for the external 
and the inner interests of all ruling men, the propertied, the victorious, 
and the healthy. In short, religion provides the theodicy of good fortune 
for those who are fortunate. This theodicy is anchored in highly robust 
Cpharisaical') needs of man and is therefore easily understood, even if 
sufficient attention is often not paid to its effects. 

In contrast, the way in which this negative evaluation of suffering has 
led to its religious glorification is more complicated. Numerous forms 
of chastisement and of abstinences from normal diet and sleep, as well 
as from sexual intercourse, awaken, or at least facilitate, the charisma 
of ecstatic, visionary, hysterical, in short, of all extraordinary states that 
are evaluated as 'holy.' Their production therefore forms the object of 
magical asceticism. The prestige of these chastisements has resulted from 


the notion that certain kinds of suffering and abnormal states provoked 
'through chastisement are avenues to the attainment of superhuman, 
that is magical, powers. The ancient prescriptions of taboo and absti- 
nences in the interest of cultic purity, which follow from a beHef in 
demons, has worked in the same direction. The development of cults of 
'redemption' has been added to these prescriptions, abstinences, and in- 
terests. In principle, these cults have occupied an independent and new 
position in the face of individual suffering. The primeval cult, and above 
all, the cult of the political associations, have left all individual interests 
out of consideration. The tribal and local god, the gods of the city and 
of the empire, have taken care only of interests that have concerned the 
collectivity as a whole. They have been concerned with rain and with 
sunshine, with the booty of the hunt and with victory over enemies. 
Thus, in the community cult, the collectivity as such turned to its god. 
The individual, in order to avoid or remove evils that concerned him- 
self — above all, sickness — has not turned to the cult of the community, 
but as an individual he has approached the sorcerer as the oldest per- 
sonal and 'spiritual adviser.' The prestige of particular magicians, and 
of those spirits or divinities in whose names they have performed their 
miracles, has brought them patronage, irrespective of local or of tribal 
affiliation. Under favorable conditions this has led to the formation of a 
religious 'community,' which has been independent of ethnic associations. 
Some, though not all, 'mysteries' have taken this course. They have 
promised the salvation of individuals qua individuals from sickness, 
poverty, and from all sorts of distress and danger. Thus the magician 
has transformed himself into the mystagogue; that is, hereditary 
dynasties of mystagogues or organizations of trained personnel under a 
head determined in accordance with some sort of rules have developed. 
This head has either been recognized as the incarnation of a superhuman 
being or merely as a prophet, that is, as the mouthpiece and agent of his 
god. Collective religious arrangements for individual 'suffering' per se, 
and for 'salvation' from it, have originated in this fashion. 

The annunciation and the promise of religion have naturally been 
addressed to the masses of those who were in need of salvation. They__ 
and their interests have moved into the center of the professional organi- 
zation for the 'cure of the soul,' which, indeed, only therewith originated. 
The typical service of magicians and priests becomes the determination 
of the factors to be blamed for suffering, that is, the confession of 'sins.' 
At first, these sins were offenses against ritual commandments. The 


magician and priest also give counsel for behavior fit to remove the 
suffering. The material and ideal interests of magicians and priests could 
thereby actually and increasingly enter the service of specifically plebeian 
motives. A further step along this course was signified when, under the 
pressure of typical and ever-recurrent distress, the religiosity of a 're- 
deemer' evolved. This religiosity presupposed the myth of a savior, hence 
(at least relatively) of a rational view of the world. Again, suffering 
became the most important topic. The primitive mythology of nature 
frequently offered a point of departure for this religiosity. The spirits (^ a _ 
who governed the coming and going of vegetation and the paths o£ ^--*^ ' 
celestial bodies important for the seasons of the year became the pre- 
ferred carriers of the myths of the suffering, dying, and resurrecting god 
to needful men. The resurrected god guaranteed the return of good 
fortune in this world or the security of happiness in the world beyond. 
Or, a popularized figure from heroic sagas — like Krishna in India — is 
embellished with the myths of childhood, love, and struggle; and such 
figures became the object of an ardent cult of the savior. Among people 
under poHtical pressure, like the Israelites, the title of 'savior' (Moshuach 
name) was originally attached to the saviors from political distress, as 
transmitted by hero sagas (Gideon, Jephthah). The 'Messianic' promises 
were determined by these sagas. With this people, and in this clear-cut 
fashion only among them and under other very particular conditions, the 
suffering of a people's community, rather than the suffering of an indi- 
vidual, became the object of hope for religious salvation. The rule was 
that the savior bore an individual and universal character at the same 
time that he was ready to guarantee salvation for the individual and 
to every individual who would turn to him. 

The figure of the savior has been of varying stamp. In the late form 
of Zoroastrianism with its numerous abstractions, a purely constructed 
figure assumed the role of the mediator and savior in the economy of 
salvation. The reverse has also occurred: a historical person, legitimized 
through miracles and visionary reappearances, ascends to the rank of 
savior. Purely historical factors have been decisive for the realization of 
these very different possibilities. Almost always, however, some kind of 
theodicy of suffering has originated from the hope for salvation. 

The promises of the religions of salvation at first remained tied to 
ritualTstj-ather than to ethical preconditions. Thus, for instance, both 
the worldly and the other worldly advantages of the Eleusinian mysteries 
we re tied to ritual purity and to attendance at the Eleusinian mass. When 


law gained in significance, these special deities played an increasing role, 
and the task of protecting the traditional order, of punishing the unjust 
and rewarding the righteous, was transferred to them as guardians of 
juridical procedure. 

Where religious development was decisively influenced by a prophecy, 
naturally 'sin' was no longer a mere magical offense. Ab ove a ll, it was a 
f'sigiuii-disb.eliei in the prophet and in his commandments. Sin figured 
as the basic cause of all sorts of misfortunes. 

The propliet has not regularly been a ^descendant or a representative of 
depressed classes. The reverse, as we shall see, has almost always been 
the~Tule. Neither has the content of the prophet's doctrine been derived 
preponderantly from the intellectual horizon of the depressed classes. 
As 3 rule, however, the oppressed, or at least those threatened by distress, 
were in need of a redeemer and prophet; the fortunate, the propertied, 
the ruling strata were not in such need. Therefore, in the great majority 
of cases, a prophetically announced religion of redemption has had its " 
permanent locus among the less-favored social strata. Among these, such' 
religiosity has either been a substitute for, or a rational supplement to, 
'" magic. 

Wherever the promises of the prophet or the redeemer have not suf- 
ficiently met the needs of the socially less-favored strata, a secondary 
salvation religion of the masses has regularly developed beneath the 
official doctrine. The rational conception of the world is contained in 
germ within the myth of the redeemer. A rational theodicy of misfortune 
has, therefore, as a rule, been a development of this conception of the 
wpxld. At the same time, this rational view of the world has often fur- 
nished suffering as such with a 'plus' sign, which was originally quite 
foreign to it. 

Suffering, voluntarily created through mortification, changed its mean- 
in^^Tth the development of ethical divinities who punish and reward. 
Originally, the magical coercion of spirits by the formula of prayer was 
increased through mortification as a source of charismatic states. Such 
coercion was preserved in mortification by prayer as well as in cultic 
prescriptions of abstinence. This has remained the case, even after the 
magical formula for coercing spirits became a supplication to be heard 
by a deity. Penances were added as a means of cooling the wrath of 
deities by repentance, and of avoiding through self-punishment the sanc- 
tions that have been incurred. The numerous abstinences were originally 
attached to the mourning for the dead (with special clarity in China) in 


order to turn away their jealousy and wrath. These abstinences were 
easily transferred to relations with the appropriate divinities; they made 
self-mortification, and finally, unintentional deprivation as such, appear 
more pleasing to the gods than the naive enjoyment of the goods of this 
earth. Such enjoyment, indeed, made the pleasure-seeking man less acces- 
sible to the influence of the prophet or the priest. 

The force of all these individual factors was tremendously enhanced 
under certain conditions. 

Thg-aeed for an ethical interpretation of the 'meaning' of the distri- 
bution of fortunes among men increased with the growing rationality 
of conceptions of the world. As the religious and ethical reflections upon 
the world were increasingly rationalized and primitive, and magical 
notions were eliminated, the theodicy of suffering encountered increasing 
difficulties. Individually 'undeserved' woe was all too frequent; not 'good' 
but 'bad' men succeeded — even when 'good' and 'bad' were measured 
by the yardstick of the master stratum and not by that of a 'slave 

One can explain suffering and injustice by referring to individual sin 
committed in a former life (the migration of souls), to the guilt of 
ancestors, which is avenged down to the third and fourth generation, or — 
the most principled — to the wickedness of all creatures per se. As com- 
pensatory promises, one can refer to liopes of the individual for a better 
lifein the future in this world (transmigration of souls) or to hopes for 
the successors (Messianic realm)^_^r^o a better life in the hereafter 

The metaphysical conception of God and of the world, which the 
ineradicable demand for a theodicy called forth, could produce only a l^J^^ 
few systems of ideas on the whole — as we shall see, only three. These /. jL 

three_gave rationally satisfactory answers to the questioning for the basis 
of the incongruity between destiny and merit: the Indian doctrine of ^ 
Kharma, Zoroastrian dualism, and the predestination decree of the deus 
abscpndidus. These solutions are rationally closed; in pure form,^ they 
ar£_iciund only as exceptions. 

The rational need for a theodicy of suffering and of dying has had 
extremely strong effects. As a matter of fact, this need has molded impor- 
tant traits of such religions as Hinduism, Zoroastrism, and Judaism, and, 
to a certain extent, Paulinian and later Christianity. Even as late as 1906, 
a mere minority among a rather considerable number of proletarians 
gave as reasons for their disbelief in Christianity conclusions derived 


from modern theories of natural sciences. The majority, however, re- 
ferred to the 'injustice' of the order of this world — to be sure, essentially 
because they believed in a revolutionary compensation in this world. 

The theodicy of suffering can be colored by resentment. But the need 
of compensation for the insufficiency of one's fate in this world has not, 
as a rule, had resentment as a basic and decisive color. Certainly, the 
need for vengeance has had a special affinity with the belief that the 
unjust are well oil in this world only because hell is reserved for them 
later. Eternal bliss is reserved for the pious; occasional sins, which, after 
all, the pious also commit, ought therefore to be expiated in this world. 
Yet one can readily be convinced that even this way of thinking, which 
occasionally appears, is not always determined by resentment, and that 
it Ts by no means always the product of socially oppressed strata. We 
shall see that there have been only a few examples of religion to which 
resentment contributed essential features. Among these examples only one 
is a fully developed case. All that can be said is that resentment could be, 
and often and everywhere has been, significant as one factor, among 
others, in influencing the religiously determined rationalism of socially 
disadvantaged strata. It has gained such significance, in highly diverse 
and often minute degrees, in accordance with the nature of the promises 
held out by different religions. 

In any case, it would be quite wrong to attempt to deduce 'asceticism' 
in general from these sources. The distrust of wealth and power, which 
as a rule exists in genuine religions of salvation, has had its natural basis 
primarily in the experience of redeemers, prophets, and priests. They 
understood that those strata which were 'satiated' and favored in this 
world had only a small urge to be saved, regardless of the kind of salva- 
tion offered. Hence, these master strata have been less 'devout' in the 
sense of salvation religions. The development of a rational religious ethic 
has had positive and primary roots in the inner conditions of those social 
strata which were less socially valued. 

Strata in solid possession of social honor and power usually tend to 
fashion their status-legend in such a way as to claim a special and in- 
trinsic quality of their own, usually a quality of blood; their sense of 
dignity feeds on their actual or alleged being. The sense of dignity of 
socially repressed strata or of strata whose status is negatively (or at least 
not positively) valued is nourished most easily on the belief that a special 
'mission' is entrusted to them; their worth is guaranteed or constituted 
by an ethical imperative, or by their own functional achievement. Their 


value Is thus moved into something beyond themselves, into a 'task' 
placed before them by God. One source of the ideal power of ethical 
prophecies among socially disadvantaged strata lies in this fact. Resent- 1 
rnent has not been required as a leverage; the rational interest in inaterial i 
and ideal compensations as such has been perfectly sufficient. ( 

There can be no doubt that prophets and priests through intentional 
or unintentional propaganda have taken the resentment of the masses 
into their service. But this is by no means always the case. This essentially 
negative force of resentment, so far as is known, has never been the 
source of those essentially metaphysical conceptions which have lent 
uniqueness to every salvation religion. Moreover, in general, the nature 
of a religious promise has by no means necessarily or even predominantly 
been the mere mouthpiece of a class interest, either of an external or 
internal nature. 

By themselves, the masses, as we shall see, have everywhere remained 
engulfed in the massive and archaic growth of magic — unless a prophecy 
that holds out specific promises has swept them into a religious move- 
ment of an ethical character. For the rest, the specific nature of the great 
religious and ethical systems has been determined by social conditions of 
a far more particular nature than by the mere contrast of ruHng and ruled 

In order to avoid repetition, some further comments about these rela- 
tionships may be stated in advance. For the empirical student, the sacred 
values, differing among themselves, are by no means only, nor even 
preferably, to be interpreted as 'other-worldly.' This is so quite apart 
from the fact that not every religion, nor every world religion, knows of 
a 'beyond' as a locus of definite promises. At first the sacred values of 
primitive as well as of cultured, prophetic or non-prophetic, religions 
were quite solid goods of this world. With the only partial exception of 
Christianity and a few other specifically ascetic creeds, they have con- 
sisted of health, a long life, and wealth. These were offered by the 
promises of the Chinese, Vedic, Zoroastrian, ancient Hebrew, and Islam- 
ite religions; and in the same manner by the Phoenician, Egyptian, 
Babylonian, and ancient Germanic religions, as well as by the promises 
of Hinduism and Buddhism for the devout laymen. Only the religious 
virtuoso, the ascetic, the monk, the Sufi, the Dervish "strove^ for sacred" 
valueSj-wliich were 'other-worldly' as compared with such solid goods of 
this world, as health, wealth, and long Hfe. And these other-worldly 
sacred values were by no means only values of the beyond. This w as not 


the case even where it was understood to be so by the participants. 
Psychologically considered, man in quest of salvation has been primarily 
preoccupied by attitudes of the here and now. The puritan certitudo salutis, 
the permanent state of grace that rests in the feeling of 'having proved 
oneself,' was psychologically the only concrete object among the sacred 
values of this ascetic religion. The Buddhist monk, certain to enter Nir- 
vana, seeks the sentiment of a cosmic love; the devout Hindu seeks 
either Bhakti (fervent love in the possession of God) or apathetic ecstasy. 
The Chlyst with his radjeny, as well as the dancing Dervish, strives for 
orgiastic ecstasy. Others seek to be possessed by God and to possess God, 
to be a bridegroom of the Virgin Mary, or to be the bride of the Savior. 
The Jesuit's cult of the heart of Jesus, quietistic edification, the pietists' 
tender love for the child Jesus and its 'running sore,'* the sexual and 
semi-sexual orgies at the wooing of Krishna, the sophisticated cultic 
dinners of the Vallabhacharis, the gnostic onanist cult activities, the 
various forms of the tinio mystica, and the contemplative submersion in 
the All-one — ^these states undoubtedly have been sought, first of all, for 
the sake of such emotional value as they directly offered the devout. In 
this respect, they have in fact been absolutely equal to the religious and 
alcoholic intoxication of the Dionysian or the soma cult; to totemic meat- 
orgies, the cannibalistic feasts, the ancient and religiously consecrated 
use of hashish, opium, and nicotine; and, in general, to all sorts of mag- 
ical intoxication. They have been considered specifically consecrated and 
divine because of their psychic extraordinariness and because of the 
intrinsic value of the respective states conditioned by them. Even the 
most primitive orgy has not entirely lacked a meaningful interpretation, 
although only the rationalized religions have imputed a metaphysical 
meaning into such specifically religious actions, in addition to the direct 
appropriation of sacred values. Rationalized religions have thus subli- 
mated the orgy into the 'sacrament?~The orgy, however, has had a pure 
animist and magical character; it has contained only small or, indeed, 
no beginnings of the universalist, cosmic pragmatism of the holy. And 
such pragmatism is peculiar to all religious rationalism. 

Yet even after such a sublimation of orgy into sacrament has occurred, 
the fact remains, oT course, that for the devout the sacred value, first and 
above all, has been a psychological state in the here and now. Primarily 
this state consists in the emotional attitude fer se, which was directly 
called forth by the specifically religious (or magical) act, by nietho3ical 
asceticism, or by contemplation. — -^ 


As extraordinary attitudes, religious states can be only transient in 
character and in external appearance. Originally this, of course, was 
everywhere the case. The only way of distinguishing between 'religious' 
and 'profane' states is by referring to the extraordinary character of the 
religious states. A special state, attained by religious means, can be striven 
for as a 'holy state' which is meant to take possession of the entire man 
and of his lasting fate. The transition from a passing to a permanent holy 
state has been fluid, 

Tljg. t>vo highest conceptions of sublimated religious doctrines of salva- 
tion are 'rebirth' and 'redemption.' Rebirth, a primeval magical value, has 
meant the acquisition of a new soul by means of an orgiastic act or 
through methodically planned asceticism. Man transitorily acquired a 
new soul in ecstasy; but by means of magical asceticism, he could seek 
to gain it permanently. The youth who wished to enter the community 
of warriors as a hero, or to participate in its magical dances or orgies, or 
who wished to commune with the divinities in cultic feasts, had to have 
a new soul. The heroic and magical asceticism, the initiation rites of 
youths, and the sacramental customs of rebirth at important phases of 
private and collective life are thus quite ancient. The means used in 
these activities varied, as did their ends: that is, the answers to the ques- 
tion, 'For what should I be reborn?' 

The various religious or magical states that have given their psycho- 
logical stamp to religions may be systematized according to very different 
points of view. Here we shall not attempt such a systematization. In 
connection with what we have said, we merely wish to indicate quite 
generally the following. 

The kind of empirical state of bliss or experience of rebirth that is 
soughtafter as the supreme value by a religion has obviously and neces- 
sarily^vaneT^rordlnglo^the^character ofThe stratum which was fore- 
most^m' adopting it. Thr chivalrous warrior class, peasants, business 
classes, and intellectuals with literary education have naturally pursued 
different religious tendencies. As will become evident, these tendencies 
hkVe not by themselves determined the psychological character of religion; 
they have, however, exerted a very lasting influence upon it. The contrast 
between warrior and peasant classes, and intellectual and business classes, 
is of special importance. Of these groups, the intellectuals have always 
been the exponents of a rationalism which in their case has been rela- 
tively theoretical. The business classes (merchants and artisans) have been 
at least possible exponents of rationalism of a more practical sort. Rational- 


ism of either kind has borne very different stamps, but has always exerted 
a great influence upon the religious attitude. 

Above all, the peculiarity of the intellectual strata in this matter has 
been in the past of the greatest importance for religion. At the present 
time, it matters little in the development of a religion whether or not 
modern intellectuals feel the need of enjoying a 'religious' state as an 
'experience,' in addition to all sorts of other sensations, in order to deco- 
rate their internal and stylish furnishings with paraphernalia guaranteed 
to be genuine and old. A religious revival has never sprung from such a 
source. In the past, it was the work of the intellectuals to sublimate the 
possession of sacred values into a belief in 'redemption.' The conception 
of the idea of redemption, as such, is very old, if one understands by it a 
liberation from distress, hunger, drought, sickness, and ultimately from 
suffering and death. Yet redemption attained a specific significance only 
where it expressed a systematic and rationalized 'image of the world' and 
represented a stand in the face of the world. For the meaning as well as 
the intended and actual psychological quality of redemption has de- 
pended upon such a world image and such a stand. Not ideas, but 
material and ideal interests, directly govern men's conduct. Yet very fre- 
quently the 'world images' that have been created by 'ideas' have, like 
switchmen, determined the tracks along which action has been pushed 
by the dynamic of interest. 'From what' and 'for what' one wished to 
be redeemed and, let us not forget, 'could be' redeemed, depended upon 
one's image of the world. 

There have been very different possibilities in this connection: One could 
wish to be saved from political and social servitude and lifted into a 
Messianic realm in the future of this world; or one could wish to be saved 
from being defiled by ritual impurity and hope for the pure beauty of 
psychic and bodily existence. One could wish to escape being in carce rated 
in an impure body and hope for a purely spiritual existence. One could wish 
to~be saved from the eternal and senseless play of human passions and de- 
sires and hope for the quietude of the pure beholding of the divine. One 
could wish to be saved from radical evil and the servitude of sin and-hope 
for the eternal and free benevolence in the lap of a fatherly god. One could 
wish to be saved from peonage under the astrologically conceived determi- 
nation of stellar constellations and long for the dignity of freedom and par- 
taking of the substance of the hiddeii deity. One coiild" wish to be redeemed 
from the barriers to the finite, which express themselves in suffering, misery 
and death, and the threatening punishment of hell, and hope for an eternal 


bliss in an earthly or paradisical future existence. One could wish to be 
saved from the cycle of rebirths with their inexorable compensations for 1 
the deeds of the times past and hope for eternal rest. One could wish to 
be saved from senseless brooding and events and long for the dreamless 
sleep. Many more varieties of belief have, of course, existed. Behind them 
always lies^ a stand towards something in the actual world which is 
experienoed_as specifically 'senseless.' Thus, the demand has been implied: 
that the world order in its totality is, could, and should somehow be a 
meaningful 'cosmos.' This quest, ;the core of genuine religious rational- \ 
ism,Jias_heen-bom€ precisely by strata of intellectuals.] The avenues, the \ 
results, and the efficacy of this metaphysical need for a meaningful cosmos \ 
have" varied widely. Nevertheless, some general comments may be made. / 

The general result of the modern form of thoroughly rationalizing the 
conception of the world and of the way of life, theoretically and prac- 
tically, in a purposive manner, has been that religion has been shifted 
into the realm of the irrational. This has been the more the case the fur- 
ther the purposive type of rationalization has progressed, if one takes the 
standpoint of an intellectual articulation of an image of the world. This 
^*s;«hift of religion into the irrational realm has occurred for several reasons. ,1, 
(IpnThe one hand, the calculation of consistent rationalism has not easily 
come out even with nothing left over. In music, the Pythagorean 'comma' 
resisted complete rationalization oriented to tonal physics. The various 
great systems of music of all peoples and ages have differed in the man- 
ner in which they have either covered up or bypassed this inescapable 
irrationality or, on the other hand, put irrationality into the service of 
the richness of tonalities. The same has seemed to happen to the theoret- 
ical conception of the world, only far more so; and above all, it has 
seemed to happen to the rationalization of practical life. The various 
great ways of leading a rational and methodical life have been charac- 
terized bjT Irrational presuppositions, which have been accepted simply 
as 'given' and which have been incorporated into such ways of life. What 
these presuppositions have been is historically and socially determined, 
at least to a very large extent, through the peculiarity of those strata that 
have been the carriers of the ways of life during its formative and de- • 
cisive period. The interest situation of these strata, as determined socially 
and psychologically, has made for their peculiarity, as we here under- 
stand it. 

/jpTLirthermore, the irrational elements in the rationalization of reality 
nSvebeen the loci to which the irrepressible quest of intellectualism for 


the possession of supernatural values has been compelled to retreat. That 
is the more so the more denuded of irrationality the world appears to be. 
The unity of the primitive image of the world, in which everything was 
concrete magic, has tended to split into rational cognition and mastery 
of nature, on the one hand, and into 'mystic' experiences, on the other. 
The inexpressible contents of such experiences remain the only possible 
'beyond,' added to the mechanism of a world robbed of gods. In fact, the 
beyond remains an incorporeal and rrjetaphysical realm in which indi- 
viduals intimately possess the holy. 'Where this conclusion has been 
drawn without any residue, the individual can pursue his quest for sal- 
vation only as an individuaU Tl^is phenomenon appears in some form, 
with progressive intellectualist rationalism, wherever men have ventured 
to rationalize the image of the world as being a cosmos governed by 
impersonal rules. Naturally it has occurred most strongly among religions 
and religious ethics which have been quite strongly determined by gen- 
teel strata of intellectuals devoted to the purely cognitive comprehension 
of the world and of its 'meaning.' This was the case with Asiatic and, 
above all, Indian world religions. For all of them, contemplation became 
the supreme and ultimate religious value accessible to man. Contempla- 
"^ion offered them entrance into the profound and blissful tranquillity 
and immobility of the All-one. All other forms of religious states, how- 
ever, have been at best considered a relatively valuable Ersatz for con- 
templation. This has had far-reaching consequences for the relation of 
religion to life, including economic life, as we shall repeatedly see. Such 
consequences flow from the general character of 'mystic' experiences, in 
the contemplative sense, and from the psychological preconditions of the 
search for them. 

The situation in which strata decisive for the development of a religion 
were active in practical life has been entirely different. Where they were 
chivalrous warrior heroes, political officials, economically acquisitive 
classes, or, finally, where an organized hierocracy dominated religion, the 
results were difTerent than where genteel intellectuals were decisive. 

The rationalism of hierocracy grew out of the professional preoccupa- 
tion with cult and myth or — to a far higher degree — out of the cure of 
souls, that is, the confession of sin and counsel to sinners. Everywhere 
hierocracy has sought to monopolize the administration of religious 
values. They have also sought to brin g and _tg_temper the bestowal of 
religious goods into the form of 'sacramental' or 'corporate grace,' which 
could l)e rituallylleestowed only~by "the priesthood and could not be 


attained by the individual. Tlie individual's quest for salvation or the 
quest of'free communities by means o£ contemplation, orgies, or asceti- 
cism, has been considered highly suspect and has had to be regulated 
ritually and, above all, controlled hierocratically. From the standpoint of 
the interests of the priesthood in power, this is only natural. 

Every body of political officials, on the other hand, has been suspicious 
of all sorts of individual pursuits of salvation and of the free formation 
of communities as sources of emancipation from domestication at the 
hands of the institution of the state. Political officials have distrusted the 
competing priestly corporation of grace and, above all, at bottom they 
have despised the very quest for these impractical values lying beyond 
utilitarian and worldly ends. For all political bureaucracies, religious 
duties have ultimately been simply official or social obligations of the 
citizenry and of status groups. Ritual has corresponded to rules and 
regulations, and, therefore, wherever a bureaucracy has determined its 
nature, religion has assumed a ritualist character. 

It is also usual for a stratum of chivalrous warriors to pursue abso- 
lutely worlHly interests and to be remote from all 'mysticism.' Such strata, 
however, have lacked — and this is^cRaracteristic of heroism in general — 
the desire as well as the capacity for a rational mastery of reality. The 
irrationality of 'fate' and, under certain conditions, the idea of a vague 
and deterrninistically conceived 'destiny' (the Homeric Moira) has stood 
above and behind the divinities and demons who were conceived of as 
passionate and strong heroes, measuring out assistance and hostility, 
glory and booty, or death to the human heroes. 

Peasants havej3een inclined towards magic. Their whole economic 
existence^has-been specifically bound to nature and has made them de- 
pendent upon elemental forces. They readily believe in a compelling 
sorcery directed against spirits who rule over or through natural forces, 
or they believe in simply buying divine benevolence. Only tremendous 
transformations of life-orientation have succeeded in tearing them away 
from this universal and primeval form of religiosity. Such transformations 
have been derived either from other strata or from mighty prophets, who, 
through the power of miracles, legitimize themselves as sorcerers. Orgias- 
tic and ecstatic states of 'possession,' produced by means of toxics or by 
the dance, are strange to the status honor of knights because they are 
considered undignified. Among the peasants, however, such states have 
taken the place that 'mysticism' holds among the intellectuals. 

Finally, we may consider the strata that in the western European 

284 •"-""TN religion 

sense are calledT 'civic,' as well as those which elsewhere correspond to 
them: artisans, tracers, enterprisers engaged in cottage industry, and 
their derivatives existing only in the modern Occident. Apparently these 
strata have been the most ambiguous with regard to the religious stands 
open to them. And this is especially important to us. 
^1 Among these 'civic' strata the following religious phenomena have had 

especially strong roots: the institutional and sacramental grace of the 
Roman church in the medfeval cities — the pillars of the popes; the_mys- 
tagogic and"sacramental grace in the ancient cities and in India; the 
orgiastic and contemj)lative Sufi, and Dervish religion of the Middle 
Eastern Orient; the Taoist magic; the Buddhist contemplation; the 
ritualist appropriation of grace under the direction of souls by mysta- 
gogues in Asia; all the forms of love for a savior; the beliefs in redemp- 
tion the world over, from the cult of Krishna to the cult of Christ; the 
rational ritualism of the law and the sermon of the synagogue denuded 
of all magic among Jewry; the pneumatic and ancient as well as the 
ascetTcisr^medieval sects; the grace of predestination and the ethical 
regeneration of the Puritan and the Methodist; as well as all sorts of 
individual' pursuits of salvation. All of these have been more firmly 
rooted among 'civic' strata than among any other. 

Of course, the religions of all strata are certainly far from being un- 
ambiguously dependent upon the character of the strata we have pre- 
j , sented as having special affinities with them. Yet, at first sight, civic 
I j strata appear, in this respect and on the whole, to lend themselves to a 
j more varied determination. Yet it is precisely among these strata that 
I elective affinities for special types of religion stand out. TJi£_tendency 
towards a practical rational ism in conduct is common to all civic strata; it 
'is'cohditioned by the nature of their way of life, which is greatly detached 
frorn economic bonds to nature. Their whole existence has been based 
upon technological or economic calculations and upon the mastery of 
nature and of man, however primitive the means at their disposal. The 
technique of living handed down among them may, of course, be frozen 
in traditionalism, as has occurred repeatedly and everywhere. But pre- 
cisely for these, there has always existed the possibility — even though in 
greatly varying measure — of letting an ethical and rational regulation of 
life arise. This may occur by the linkage of such an ethic to the tendency 
of technological and economic rationalism. Such regulation has not 
always been able to make headway against traditions which, in the main, 
were magically stereotyped. But where prophecy has provided a religious 


basis, this basis could be one of two fundamental types of prophecy which 
we shall repeatedly discuss: 'exemplary' prophecy, and 'emissary' prophecy. 

Exemplary prophecy points out the path to salvation by exemplary 
living^usually by a contemplative and apathetic-ecstatic life. The emis- 
sary type of prophecy addresses its demands to the world in the name 
of a god. Naturally these demands are ethical; and they are often of an 
active ascetic character. 

It is quite understandable that the more weighty the civic strata as such 
have been, and the more they have been torn from bonds of taboo and 
from divisions into sibs and castes, the more favorable has been the soil 
for religions that call for action in this world. Under these conditions, 
the preferred religious attitude could become the attitude of active asceti- 
cism, of God-wiUed action nourished by the sentiment of being God's 
'tool,' rather than the possession of the deity or the inward and contem- 
plative surrender to God, which has appeared as the supreme value to 
religions influenced by strata of genteel intellectuals. In the Occident the 
attitude of active asceticism has repeatedly retained supremacy over con- 
templative mysticism and orgiastic or apathetic ecstasy, even though these 
latter types have been well known in the Occident. Active asceticism, 
however, has not been confined to civic strata. Such an unambiguous 
social determination has not in any way existed. The prophecy of 
Zoroaster was directed at the nobility and the peasantry; the prophecy of 
Islam was directed to warriors. These prophecies, like the Israelite and 
the early Christian prophecy and preaching, have had an active character, 
which stands in contrast with the propaganda of Buddhism, Taoism, 
Neo-Pythagorism, Gnosticism, and Sufism. Certain specific conclusions 
of emissary prophecies, however, have been drawn precisely on 'civic' 

In the missionary prophecy the devout have not experienced themselves 
as vessels of the divine but rather as instruments of a god. This emissary 
prophecy has had a profound elective affinity to a special conception of 
God: the conception of a supra-mundane, personal, wrathful, forgiving, 
loving, demanding, punishing Lord of Creation. Such a conception 
stands in contrast to the supreme being of exemplary prophecy. As a 
rule, though by no means without exception, the supreme being of an 
exemplary prophecy is an impersonal being because, as a static state, he 
is accessible only by means of contemplation. The conception of an, active 
God, held by emissary prophecy, has dominated the Iranian and Mid- 
Eastern religions and those Occidental religions which are derived from 


theiru_The conception of a supreme and static being, held by exemplary 
prophecy, has come to dominate Indian and Chinese religiosity. 

These differences are not primitive in nature. On the contrary, they 
have come into existence only by means of a far-reaching sublimation of 
primitive conceptions of animist spirits and of heroic deities which are 
everywhere similar in nature. Certainly the connection of conceptions of 
God with religious states, which are evaluated and desired as sacred 
values, have also been strongly influential in this process of sublimation. 
These religious states have simply been interpreted in the direction of a 
different conception of God, according to whether the holy states, eval- 
uated as supreme, were contemplative mystic experiences or apathetic 
ecstasy, or whether they were the orgiastic possession of god, or visionary 
inspirations and 'commands.' 

At the present time, it is widely held that one should consider emo- 
tional content as primary, with thoughts being merely its secondary 
expression. Of course, this point of view is to a great extent justified. 
From such a standpoint one might be inclined to consider the primacy 
of 'psychological' as over against 'rational' connections as the only de- 
cisive causal nexus, hence to view these rational connections as mere 
interpretations of the psychological ones. This, however, would be going 
much too far, according to factual evidence. A whole series of purely 
historical motives have determined the development toward the supra- 
mundane or the immanent conception of God. These conceptions, in 
turn, have decisively influenced the way in which experiences of salva- 
tion have been articulated. This definitely holds for the conception of 
the supra-mundane God, as we shall see again and again. If even Meister 
Eckhart occasionally and expressly placed Martha above Mary, he did 
so ultimately because he could not realize the pantheist experience of 
God, which is peculiar to the mystic, without entirely sacrificing all the 
decisive elements of Occidental belief in God and creation. 

The rational elements of a religion, its 'doctrine,' also have an auton- 
omy: for instance, the Indian doctrine of Kharma, the Calvinist belief in 
predestination, the Lutheran justification through faith, and the Catholic 
doctrine of sacrament. The rational religious pragmatism of salvation, 
flowing from the nature of the images of God and of the world, have 
under certain conditions had far-reaching results for the fashioning of a 
practical way of life. 

These comments presuppose that the nature of the desired sacred 
values has been strongly influenced by the nature of the external interest- 


situation and the corresponding way of life of the ruHng strata and thus 
by the social stratification itself. But the reverse also holds : wherever the 
direction of the whole way of life has been methodically rationalized, it 
has been profoundly determined by the ultimate values toward which 
this rationalization has been directed. These values and positions were 
thus religiously determined. Certainly they have not always, or exclu- ••, 
sively, been decisive; however, they have been decisive in so far as an 
ethical rationalization held sway, at least so far as its influence reached. 
As a rule, these religious values have been also, and frequently absolutely, 

One factor has been very important in determining the nature of the 
mutual inter-relations between external and internal interest-situations. 
The 'supreme' sacred values, which are promised by religion and have 
been discussed above, have not necessarily been the most universal ones. 
Not everybody had entree to Nirvana, to the contemplative union with 
the divine, the orgiastic or the ascetic possession of God. In a weakened 
form, the transposition of persons into religious states of frenzy or into 
the trance may become the object of a universal cult of the people. But 
even in this form such psychic states have not been elements of everyday 

The empirical fact, important for us, that men are differently qualified 
in a religious way stands at the beginning of the history of religion. 
This fact had been dogmatized in the sharpest rationalist form in the 
'particularism of grace,' embodied in the doctrine of predestination by 
the Calvinists. The sacred values that have been most cherished, the 
ecstatic and visionary capacities of shamans, sorcerers, ascetics, and pneu- 
matics of all sorts, could not be attained by everyone. The possession of 
such faculties is a 'charisma,' which, to be sure, might be awakened in ^ 
some but not in all. It follows from this that all intensive religiosity has a • 
tendency toward a sort of status stratification, in accordance with differ- 
ences in the charismatic qualifications. 'Heroic' or 'virtuoso' religiosity ^ 
is opposed to mass religiosity. By 'mass' we understand those who are 
religiously 'unmusical'; we do not, of course, mean those who occupy 
an inferior position in the secular status order. In this sense, the status 
carriers of a virtuoso religion have been the leagues of sorcerers and 
sacred dancers; the religious status group of the Indian Sramana and of 
the early Christian 'ascetics,' who were expressly recognized in the con- 
gregation as a special 'estate'; the Paulinian, and still more the Gnostic, 
'pneumatics,' the pietist ecclesiola; all genuine 'sects' — that is, sociolog- 


ically speaking, associations that accept oniy religiously qualified persons 
in their midst; and finally, monk communities all over the world. ■ 

Now, every hierocratic and official authority of a 'church' — that is, a 
community organized by officials into an institution which bestows gifts 
of grace — fights principally against all virtuoso-religion and against its 
autonomous development. For the church, being the holder of institu- 
tionalized grace, seeks to organize the reHgiosity of the masses and to 
put its own officially monopolized and mediated sacred values in the 
place of the autonomous and religious status qualifications of the reli- 
gious virtuosos. By its nature, that is, according to the interest-situation of 
its officeholders, the church must be 'democratic' in the sense of making 
the sacred values generally accessible. This means that the church stands 
for a universalism of grace and for the ethical sufficiency of all those 
who are enrolled under its institutional authority. Sociologically, the 
process of leveling constitutes a complete parallel with the political 
struggles of the bureaucracy against the political privileges of the aristo- 
cratic estates. As with hierocracy, every full-grown political bureaucracy 
is necessarily and in a quite similar sense 'democratic' — namely, in the 
sense of leveling and of fighting against status privileges that compete 
with its power. 

The most varied compromises have resulted from this struggle be- 
tween officialdoms and the virtuosos. These struggles have not always 
been official but they have always existed at least covertly. Thus, the 
religiosity of the Ulema '^ stood against the religiosity of the Dervishes; 
the early Christian bishops against the pneumatics and heroist sectaries as 
well as against the power of The Key of asceticist charisma; the Lutheran 
preacher's office and the Anglican and priestly church stood against 
asceticism in general; the Russian state church was opposed to the sects; 
and the official management of the Confucian cult stood against 
Buddhist, Taoist, and sectarian pursuits of salvation of all sorts. The 
religious virtuosos saw themselves compelled to adjust their demands to 
the possibilities of the religiosity of everyday life in order to gain and to 
maintain ideal and material mass-patronage. The nature of their con- 
cessions have naturally been of primary significance for the way in 
which they have religiously influenced everyday life. In almost all 
Oriental religions, the virtuosos allowed the masses to remain stuck in 
magical tradition. Thus, the influence of religious virtuosos has been infi- 
nitely smaller than was the case where religion has undertaken ethically 
and generally to rationalize everyday life. This has been the case even 


when religion has aimed precisely at the masses and has cancelled how- 
ever many of its ideal demands. Besides the relations between the relig- 
iosity of the virtuosos and the religion of the masses, which finally re- 
sulted from this struggle, the peculiar nature of the concrete religiosity 
of the virtuosos has been of decisive importance for the development of 
the way of life of the masses. This virtuoso religiosity has therefore also 
been important for the economic ethic of the respective religion. The 
religion of the virtuoso has been the genuinely 'exemplary' and practical 
religion. According to the way of life his religion prescribed to the vir- 
tuoso, there have been various possibilities of establishing a rational 
ethic of everyday life. The relation of virtuoso religion to workaday life 
in the locus of the economy has varied, especially according to the pe- 
culiarity of the sacred values desired by such religions. 

Wherever the sacred values and the redemptory means of a virtuoso 
religion bore a contemplative or orgiastic-ecstatic character, there has 
been no bridge between religion and the practical action of the workaday 
world. In such cases, the economy and all other action in the world 
has been considered religiously inferior, and no psychological motives 
for worldly action could be derived from the attitude cherished as the 
supreme value. In their innermost beings, contemplative and ecstatic 
religions have been rather specifically hostile to economic life. Mystic, 
orgiastic, and ecstatic experiences are extraordinary psychic states; they 
lead away from everyday life and from all expedient conduct. Such ex- 
periences are, therefore, deemed to be 'holy.' With such religions, a deep 
abyss separates the way of life of the laymen from that of the com- 
munity of virtuosos. The rule of the status groups of religious virtuosos 
over the religious community readily shifts into a magical anthropolatry ; 
the virtuoso is directly worshipped as a Saint, or at least laymen buy 
his blessing and his magical powers as a means of promoting mun- 
dane success or religious salvation. As the peasant was to the landlord, 
so the layman was to the Buddhist and Jainist bhikshu:^ ultimately, 
mere sources of tribute. Such tribute allowed the virtuosos to live entirely 
for religious salvation without themselves performing profane work, 
which always would endanger their salvation. Yet the conduct of the 
layman could still undergo a certain ethical regulation, for the virtuoso 
was the layman's spiritual adviser, his father confessor and directeur de 
I'dme. Hence, the virtuoso frequently exercises a powerful influence over 
the religiously 'unmusical' laymen; this influence might not be in the 
direction of his (the virtuoso's) own religious way of life; it might be 


an influence in merely ceremonious, ritualist, and conventional partic- 
ulars. For action in this world remained in principle religiously insignifi- 
cant; and compared with the desire for the religious end, action lay in 
the very opposite direction. 

In the end, the charisma of the pure 'mystic' serves only himself. The 
charisma of the genuine magician serves others. 

Things have been quite different where the religiously qualified vir- 
tuosos have combined into an ascetic sect, striving to mould life in this 
world according to the will of a god. To be sure, two things were neces- 
sary before this could happen in a genuine way. First, the supreme and 
sacred value must not be of a contemplative nature; it must not consist 
of a union with a supra-mundane being who, in contrast to the world, 
lasts forever; nor in a iinia mystica to be grasped orgiastically or apa- 
thetic-ecstatically. For these ways always lie apart from everyday life and 
beyond the real world and lead away from it. Second, such a religion 
must, so far as possible, have given up the purely magical or sacra- 
mental character of the means of grace. For these means always devalue 
action in this world as, at best, merely relative in their religious signifi- 
cance, and they link the decision about salvation to the success of proc- 
esses which are not of a rational everyday nature. 

When religious virtuosos have combined into an active asceticist sect, 
two aims are completely attained: the disenchantment of the world and 
the blockage of the path to salvation by a flight from the world. The 
path to salvation is turned away from a contemplative 'flight from the 
world' and towards an active ascetic 'work in this world.' If one disre- 
gards the small rationalist sects, such as are found all over the world, 
this has been attained only in the great church and sect organizations of 
Occidental and asceticist Protestantism. The quite distinct and the 
purely historically determined destinies of Occidental religions have 
co-operated in this matter. Partly, the social environment exerted an 
influence, above all, the environment of the stratum that was decisive 
for the development of such religion. Partly, however — and just as 
strongly — the intrinsic character of Christianity exerted an influence: 
the supra-mundane God and the specificity of the means and paths of 
salvation as determined historically, first by Israelite prophecy and the 
thora doctrine.^ 

The religious virtuoso can be placed in the world as the instrument 
of a God and cut off from all magical means of salvation. At the same 
time, it is imperative for the virtuoso that he 'prove' himself before God, 


as being called solely through the ethical quality of his conduct in this 
world. This actually means that he 'prove' himself to himself as well. 
No matter how much the 'world' as such is religiously devalued and 
rejected as being creatural and a vessel of sin, yet psychologically the 
world is all the more affirmed as the theatre of God-willed activity in 
one's worldly 'calling.' For this inner-worldly asceticism rejects the 
world in the sense that it despises and taboos the values of dignity and 
beauty, of the beautiful frenzy and the dream, purely secular power, 
and the purely worldly pride of the hero. Asceticism outlawed these 
values as competitors of the kingdom of God. Yet precisely because of 
this rejection, asceticism did not fly from the world, as did contempla- 
tion. Instead, asceticism has wished to rationalize the world ethically in 
accordance with God's commandments. It has therefore remained 
oriented towards the world in a more specific and thoroughgoing sense 
than did the naive 'affirmation of the world' of unbroken humanity, for 
instance, in Antiquity and in lay-Catholicism. In inner-worldly asceti- 
cism, the grace and the chosen state of the religiously qualified man 
prove themselves in everyday life. To be sure, they do so not in the 
everyday life as it is given, but in methodical and rationalized routine- 
activities of workaday life in the service of the Lord. Rationally raised into 
a vocation, everyday conduct becomes the locus for proving one's state of 
grace. The Occidental sects of the religious virtuosos have fermented the 
methodical rationalization of conduct, including economic conduct. 
These sects have not constituted valves for the longing to escape from 
the senselessness of work in this world, as did the Asiatic communities 
of the ecstatics: contemplative, orgiastic, or apathetic. 

The most varied transitions and combinations are found between the 
polar opposites of 'exemplary' and 'emissary' prophecy. Neither reli- 
gions nor men are open books. They have been historical rather than 
logical or even psychological constructions without contradiction. Often 
they have borne within themselves a series of motives, each of which, if 
separately and consistently followed through, would have stood in the 
way of the others or run against them head-on. In religious matters 
'consistency' has been the exception and not the rule. The ways and 
means of salvation are also psychologically ambiguous. The search for 
God of the early Christian monk as well as of the Quaker contained 
very strong contemplative elements. Yet the total content of their re- 
ligions and, above all, their supra-mundane God of creation and their 
way of making sure of their states of grace again and again directed 


them to the course of action. On the other hand, the Buddhist monk was 
also active, but his activities were withdrawn from any consistent ration- 
ahzation in this world; his quest for salvation was ultimately oriented 
to the flight from the 'wheel' of the rebirths. The sectarians and other 
brotherhoods of the Occidental Middle Ages spearheaded the religious 
penetration of everyday life. They found their counter-image in the 
brotherhoods of Islam, which were even more widely developed. The 
stratum typical of such brotherhoods in the Occident and in Islam were 
identical: petty bourgeois and especially artisans. Yet the spirit of their 
respective religions were very different. Viewed externally, numerous 
Hinduist religious communities appear to be 'sects' just as do those of 
the Occident. The sacred value, however, and the manner in which 
values were mediated pointed in radically different directions. 

We shall not accumulate more examples here, as we wish to consider 
the great religions separately. In no r'^spect can one simply integrate 
various world religions into a chain of types, each of them signifying a 
new 'stage.' All the great religions are historical individualities of a 
highly complex nature; taken all together, they exhaust only a few of 
the possible combinations that could conceivably be formed from the 
the very numerous individual factors to be considered in such historical 

Thus, the following presentations do not in any way constitute a 
systematic 'typology' of religion. On the other hand, they do not consti- 
tute a purely historical work. They are 'typological' in the sense that they 
consider what is typically important in the historical realizations of the 
religious ethics. This is important for the connection of religions with 
the great contrasts of the economic mentalities. Other aspects will be 
neglected; these presentations do not claim to offer a well-rounded pic- 
ture of world religions. Those features peculiar to the individual re- 
ligions, in contrast to other religions, but which at the same time are 
important for our interest, must be brought out strongly. A presentation 
that disregards these special accents of importance would often have to 
tone down the special features in which we are interested. Such a bal- 
anced presentation would almost always have to add other features and 
occasionally would have to give greater emphasis to the fact that, of 
course, all qualitative contrasts in reality, in the last resort, can somehow 
be comprehended as purely quantitative differences in the combinations 
of single factors. However, it would be extremely unfruitful to emphasize 
and repeat here what goes without saying. 


The features of religions that are important for economic ethics shall 
interest us primarily from a definite point of view: we shall be interested 
in the way in which they are related to economic rationalism. More pre- j 
cisely, we mean the economic rationalism of the type which, since the ' 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, has come to dominate the Occident 
as part of the particular rationalization of civic life, and which has 
become familiar in this part of the world. 

We have to remind ourselves in advance that 'rationalism' may mean 
very different things. It means one thing if we think of the kind of 
rationahzation the systematic thinker performs on the image of the 
world: an increasing theoretical mastery of reality by means of increas- 
ingly precise and abstract concepts. Rationalism means another thing if 
we think of the methodical attainment of a definitely given and practical 
end by means of an increasingly precise calculation of adequate means. 
These types of rationaUsm are very different, in spite of the fact that 
ultimately they belong inseparately together. Similar types may be dis- 
tinguished even within the intellectual comprehension of reality; for 
instance, the differences between English Physics and Continental Physics 
has been traced back to such a type difference within the comprehension 
of reality. The rationalization of life conduct with which we have to 
deal here can assume unusually varied forms. 

In the sense of the absence of all metaphysics and almost all residues 
of religious anchorage, Confucianism is rationalist to such a far-going 
extent that it stands at the extreme boundary of what one might possibly 
call a 'religious' ethic. At the same time, Confucianism is more rational- 
ist and sober, in the sense of the absence and the rejection of all non- 
utilitarian yardsticks, than any other ethical system, with the possible 
exception of J. Bentham's. Yet Confucianism, in spite of constantly actual 
and apparent analogies, nevertheless differs extraordinarily from Ben- 
tham's as well as from all other Occidental types of practical rationalism. 
The supreme artistic ideal of the Renaissance was 'rational' in the sense 
of a belief in a valid 'canon,' and the view of life of the Renaissance was 
rational in the sense of rejecting traditionalist bonds and of having faith 
in the power of the naturalis ratio. This type of rationalism prevailed in 
spite of certain elements of Platonizing mysticism. 

'Rational' may also mean a 'systematic arrangement.' ^ In this sense, 
the following methods are rational: methods of mortificatory or of 
magical asceticism, of contemplation in its most consistent forms — for 


instance, in yoga — or in the manipulations of the prayer machines of 
later Buddhism. 

In general, all kinds of practical ethics that are systematically and 
unambiguously oriented to fixed goals of salvation are 'rational,' partly 
in the same sense as formal method is rational, and partly in the sense 
that they distinguish between 'valid' norms and what is empirically 
given. These types of rationalization processes are of interest to us in 
the following presentations. It would be senseless to try to anticipate the 
typologies of these presentations here, for they aim to make a contribu- 
tion to such typology. 

In order to make this attempt, the author must take the liberty of being 
'unhistorical,' in the sense that the ethics of individual religions are pre- 
sented systematically and essentially in greater unity than has ever been 
the case in the flux of their actual development. Rich contrasts which 
have been alive in individual religions, as well as incipient developments 
and ramifications, must be left aside; and the features that to the author 
are important must often be presented in greater logical consistency and 
less historical development than was actually the case. If it were done 
arbitrarily, this simplification would be a historical 'falsification.' This, 
however, is not the case, at least not intentionally. The author has always 
underscored those features in the total picture of a religion which have 
been decisive for the fashioning of the practical way of life, as well as 
those which distinguish one religion from another.^** 

Finally, before going into the subject matter, some remarks by way of 
explaining terminological pecuHarities which frequently recur in the 
presentation may be advanced.^^ 

When fully developed, religious associations and communities belong 
to a type of corporate authority. They represent 'hierocratic' associations, 
that is, their power to rule is supported by their monopoly in the bestowal 
or denial of sacred values. 

All ruling powers, profane and religious, political and apolitical, may 
be considered as variations of, or approximations to, certain pure types. 
These types are constructed by searching for the basis of legitimacy, 
which the ruling power claims. Our modern 'associations,' above all the 
political ones, are of the type of 'legal' authority. That is, the legitimacy 
of the power-holder to give commands rests upon rules that are rationally 
established by enactment, by agreement, or by imposition. The legitima- 
tion for establishing these rules rests, in turn, upon a rationally enacted 
or interpreted 'constitution.' Orders are given in the name of the imper- 


sonal norm, rather than in the name of a personal authority; and even 
the giving of a command constitutes obedience toward a norm rather 
than an arbitrary freedom, favor, or privilege. 

The 'official' is the holder of the power to command; he never exer- 
cises this power in his own right; he holds it as a trustee of the imper- 
sonal and 'compulsory institution.' ^- This institution is made up of the 
specific patterns of life of a plurality of men, definite or indefinite, yet 
specified according to rules. Their joint pattern of life is normatively gov- 
erned by statutory regulations. 

The 'area of jurisdiction' is a functionally delimited realm of possible 
objects for command and thus delimits the sphere of the official's legiti- 
mate power. A hierarchy of superiors, to which officials may appeal and 
complain in an order of rank, stands opposite the citizen or member of 
the association. Today this situation also holds for the hierocratic associa- 
tion that is the church. The pastor or priest has his definitely limited 
'jurisdiction,' which is fixed by rules. This also holds for the supreme 
head of the church. The present concept of [papal] 'infallibility' is a 
jurisdictional concept. Its inner meaning differs from that which pre- 
ceded it, even up to the time of Innocent III. 

The separation of the 'private sphere' from the 'official sphere' (in the 
case of infallibility: the ex cathedra definition) is carried through in the 
church in the same way as in political, or other, officialdoms. The legal 
separation of the official from the means of administration (either in 
natural or in pecuniary form) is carried through in the sphere of political 
and hierocratic associations in the same way as is the separation of the 
worker from the means of production in capitalist economy: it runs 
fully parallel to them. 

No matter how many beginnings may be found in the remote past, in 
its full development all this is specifically modern. The past has known 
other bases for authority, bases which, incidentally, extend as survivals 
into the present. Here we wish merely to outline these bases of authority 
in a terminological way. 

A I. In the following discussions the term 'charisma^ shall be understood 
to refer to an extraordinary quality of a person, regardless of whether this 
quality is actual, alleged, or presumed. 'Charismatic authority,' hence, 
shall refer to a rule over men, whether predominantly external or pre- 
dominantly internal, to which the governed submit because of their 
belief in the extraordinary quality of the specific person. The magical 


sorcerer, the prophet, the leader of hunting and booty expeditions, the 
warrior chieftain, the so-called 'Caesarist' ruler, and, under certain con- 
ditions, the personal head of a party are such types of rulers for their 
disciples, followings, enlisted troops, parties, et cetera. The legitimacy of 
their rule rests on the belief in and the devotion to the extraordinary, 
which is valued because it goes beyond the normal human qualities, and 
which was originally valued as supernatural. The legitimacy of charis- 
matic rule thus rests upon the belief in magical powers, revelations and 
hero worship. The source of these beliefs is the 'proving' of the charismatic 
quality through miracles, through victories and other successes, that is, 
through the welfare of the governed. Such beliefs and the claimed au- 
thority resting on them therefore disappear, or threaten to disappear, as 
soon as proof is lacking and as soon as the charismatically qualified person 
appears to be devoid of his magical power or forsaken by his god. Charis- 
matic rule is not managed according to general norms, either traditional 
or rational, but, in principle, according to concrete revelations and in- 
spirations, and in this sense, charismatic authority is 'irrational.' It is 
'revolutionary' in the sense of not being bound to the existing order: 
'It is written — but I say unto you . . . !' 

2. 'Traditionalism' in the following discussions shall refer to the psychic 
attitude-set for the habitual workaday and to the belief in the everyday 
routine as an inviolable norm of conduct. Domination that rests upon 
this basis, that is, upon piety for what actually, allegedly, or presumably 
has always existed, will be called 'traditionalist authority.' 

Patriarchahsm is by far the most important type of domination the 
legitimacy of which rests upon tradition. Patriarchalism means the au- 
thority of the father, the husband, the senior of the house, the sib elder 
over the members of the household and sib; the rule of the master and 
patron over bondsmen, serfs, freed men; of the lord over the domestic 
servants and household officials; of the prince over house- and court- 
officials, nobles of office, cHents, vassals; of the patrimonial lord and 
sovereign prince {Landesvater) over the 'subjects.' 

It is characteristic of patriarchical and of patrimonial authority, which 
represents a variety of the former, that the system of inviolable norms 
is considered sacred; an infraction of them would result in magical or 
religious evils. Side by side with this system there is a realm of free 
arbitrariness and favor of the lord, who in principle judges only in terms 
of 'personal,' not 'functional,' relations. In this sense, traditionalist au- 
thority is irrational. 


3. Throughout early history, charismatic authority, which rests upon a 
behef in the sanctity or the value of the extraordinary, and traditionalist 
(patriarchical) domination, which rests upon a belief in the sanctity of 
everyday routines, divided the most important authoritative relations 
between them. The bearers of charisma, the oracles of prophets, or the 
edicts of charismatic war lords alone could integrate 'new' laws into the 
circle of what was upheld by tradition. Just as revelation and the sword 
were the two extraordinary powers, so were they the two typical inno- 
vators. In typical fashion, however, both succumbed to routinization as 
soon as their work was done. 

With the death of the prophet or the war lord the question of suc- 
cessorship arises. This question can be solved by Kurung, which was 
originally not an 'election' but a selection in terms of charismatic quali- 
fication; or the question can be solved by the sacramental substantiation 
of charisma, the successor being designated by consecration, as is the case 
in hierocratic or apostolic succession; or the belief in the charismatic 
qualification of the charismatic leader's sib can lead to a belief in heredi- 
tary charisma, as represented by hereditary kingship and hereditary 
hierocracy. With these routinizations, rules in some form always come 
to govern. The prince or the hierocrat no longer rules by virtue of 
purely personal qualities, but by virtue of acquired or inherited qualities, 
or because he has been legitimized by an act of charismatic election. The 
process of routinization, and thus traditionalization, has set in. 

Perhaps it is even more important that when the organization of 
authority becomes permanent, the staff supporting the charismatic ruler 
becomes routinized. The ruler's disciples, apostles, and followers became 
priests, feudal vassals and, above all, officials. The original charismatic 
community lived communistically off donations, alms, and the booty of 
war: they were thus specifically alienated from the economic order. The 
community was transformed into a stratum of aids to the ruler and 
depended upon him for maintenance through the usufruct of land, office 
fees, income in kind, salaries, and hence, through prebends. The staff 
derived its legitimate power in greatly varying stages of appropriation, 
infeudation, conferment, and appointment. As a rule, this meant that 
princely prerogatives became patrimonial in nature. Patrimonialism can 
also develop from pure patriarchalism through the disintegration of the 
patriarchical master's strict authority. By virtue of conferment, the preb- 
endary or the vassal has as a rule had a personal right to the office be- 
stowed upon him. Like the artisan who possessed the economic means of 



production, the prebendary possessed the means of administration. He had 
to bear the costs of administration out of his office fees or other income, 
or he passed on to the lord only part of the taxes gathered from the 
subjects, retaining the rest. In the extreme case he could bequeath and 
alienate his office like other possession. We wish to speak of status patri- 
monialism when the development by appropriation of prerogatory power 
has reached this stage, without regard to whether it developed from 
charismatic or patriarchical beginnings. 

The development, however, has seldom stopped at this stage. We 
always meet with a struggle between the political or hierocratic lord and 
the owners or usurpers of prerogatives, which they have appropriated as 
status groups. The ruler attempts to expropriate the estates, and the es- 
tates attempt to expropriate the ruler. The more the ruler succeeds in 
attaching to himself a staff of officials who depend solely on himi and 
whose interests are linked to his, the more this struggle is decided in 
favor of the ruler and the more the privilege-holding estates are grad- 
ually expropriated. In this connection, the prince acquires administrative 
means of his own and he keeps them firmly in his own hands. Thus we 
find political rulers in the Occident, and progressively from Innocent III 
to Johann XXII, also hierocratic rulers who have finances of their own, 
as well as secular rulers who have magazines and arsenals of their own 
for the provisioning of the army and the officials. 

The character of the stratum of officials upon whose support the ruler 
has relied in the struggle for the expropriation of status prerogatives has 
varied greatly in history. In Asia and in the Occident during the early 
Middle Ages they were typically clerics; during the Oriental Middle 
Ages they were typically slaves and clients; for the Roman Principate, 
freed slaves to a limited extent were typical; humanist literati were 
typical for China; and finally, jurists have been typical for the modern 
Occident, in ecclesiastical as well as in political associations. 

The triumph of princely power and the expropriation of particular 
prerogatives has everywhere signified at least the possibility, and often 
the actual introduction, of a rational administration. As we shall see, 
however, this rationalization has varied greatly in extent and meaning. 
One must, above all, distinguish between the substantive rationaHzation 
of administration and of judiciary by a patrimonial prince, and the formal 
rationalization carried out by trained jurists. The former bestows utili- 
tarian and social ethical blessings upon his subjects, in the manner of 
the master of a large house upon the members of his household. The 


trained jurists have carried out the rule of general laws applying to all 
'citizens of the state.' However fluid the difference has been— for instance, 
in Babylon or Byzantium, in the Sicily of the Hohenstaufen, or the 
England of the Stuarts, or the France of the Bourbons— in the final 
analysis, the difference between substantive and formal rationality has 
persisted. And, in the main, it has been the work of jurists to give birth 
to the modern Occidental 'state' as well as to the Occidental 'churches.' 
We shall not discuss at this point the source of their strength, the sub- 
stantive ideas, and the technical means for this work. 

With the triumph of formalist juristic rationalism, the legal type of 
domination appeared in the Occident at the side of the transmitted types 
of domination. Bureaucratic rule was not and is not the only variety of 
legal authority, but it is the purest. The modern state and municipal 
official, the modern Catholic priest and chaplain, the officials and em- 
ployees of modern banks and of large capitalist enterprises represent, as 
we have already mentioned, the most important types of this structure 
of domination. 

The following characteristic must be considered decisive for our ter- 
minology: in legal authority, submission does not rest upon the belief 
and devotion to charismatically gifted persons, like prophets and heroes, 
or upon sacred tradition, or upon piety toward a personal lord and master 
who is defined by an ordered tradition, or upon piety toward the possible 
incumbents of office fiefs and office prebends who are legitimized in their 
own right through privilege and conferment. Rather, submission under 
legal authority is based upon an impersonal bond to the generally defined 
and functional 'duty of office.' The official duty — like the corresponding 
right to exercise authority: the 'jurisdictional competency' — is fixed by 
rationally established norms, by enactments, decrees, and regulations, in 
such a manner that the legitimacy of the authority becomes the legality 
of the general rule, which is purposely thought out, enacted, and an- 
nounced with formal correctness. 

The differences between the types of authority we have sketched per- 
tain to all particulars of their social structure and of their economic 
significance. Only a systematic presentation could demonstrate how far 
the distinctions and terminology chosen here are expedient. Here we 
may emphasize merely that by approaching in this way, we do not claim 
to use the only possible approach nor do we claim that all empirical 
structures of domination must correspond to one of these 'pure' types. 
On the contrary, the great majority of empirical cases represent a com- 


bination or a state of transition among several such pure types. We 
shall be compelled again and again to form expressions like 'patrimonial 
bureaucracy' in order to make the point that the characteristic traits of 
the respective phenomenon belong in part to the rational form of dom- 
ination, whereas other traits belong to a traditionalist form of domination, 
in this case to that of estates. We also recognize highly important forms 
that have been universally diilused throughout history, such as the 
feudal structure of domination. Important aspects of these structures, 
however, cannot be classified smoothly under any one of the three forms 
we have distinguished. They can be understood only as combinations 
involving several concepts, in this case the concepts of 'status group' 
and 'status honor.' There are also forms that have to be understood partly 
in terms of principles other than those of 'domination,' partly in terms 
of peculiar variations of the concept of charisma. Examples are: the func- 
tionaries of pure democracy with rotations of honorific offices and similar 
forms, on the one hand, and plebiscitarian domination, on the other 
hand, or certain forms of notable rule that are special forms of traditional 
domination. Such forms, however, have certainly belonged to the most 
important ferments for the delivery of political rationalism. By the 
terminology suggested here, we do not wish to force schematically the 
infinite and multifarious historical life, but simply to create concepts 
useful for special purposes and for orientation. 
y The same qualifications hold for a final terminological distinction. 
We understand by 'status' situation the probability of certain social 
groups' receiving positive or negative social honor. The chances of attain- 
ing social honor are primarily determined by differences in the styles of 
life of these groups, hence chiefly by differences of education. Referring 
to the preceding terminology of forms of authority, we may say that, 
secondarily, social honor very frequently and typically is associated with 
the respective stratum's legally guaranteed and monopolized claim to 
sovereign rights or to income and profit opportunities of a certain kind. 
Thus, if all these characteristics are found, which, of course, is not 
always the case, a 'status group' is a group societalized through its special 
styles of life, its conventional and specific notions of honor, and the 
economic opportunities it legally monopolizes. A status group is always 
somehow societalized, but it is not always organized into an association. 
Commercium, in the sense of 'social intercourse,' and connubiuin among 
groups are the typical characteristics of the mutual esteem among status 
equals; their absence signifies status difTerences. 



By 'class situation,' in contrast, we shall understand the opportunities 
to gain sustenance and income that are primarily determined by typical, 
economically relevant, situations; property of a certain kind, or acquired 
skill in the execution of services that are in demand, is decisive for 
income opportunities. 'Class situation' also comprises the ensuing gen- 
eral and typical living conditions, for instance, the necessity of complying 
with the discipline of a capitalist proprietor's workshop. 

A 'status situation' can be the cause as well as the result of a 'class 
situation,' but it need be neither. Class situations, in turn, can be pri- 
marily determined by markets, by the labor market and the commodity 
market. The specific and typical cases of class situation today) are ones 
determined by markets. But such is not necessarily the case: class situa- 
tions of landlord and small peasant may depend upon market relations 
only in a negligible way. In their differing situations, the various cate- 
gories of 'rentiers' depend on the market in greatly varying senses and 
extents, according to whether they derive their rents as landlords, slave- 
holders, or as owners of bonds and effects. 

One must therefore distinguish between 'propertied classes' and pri- 
marily market-determined 'income classes.' Present-day society is pre- 
dominantly stratified in classes, and to an especially high degree in 
income classes. But in the special status prestige of the 'educated' strata, 
our society contains a very tangible element of stratification by status. 
Externally, this status factor is most obviously represented by economic 
monopolies and the preferential social opportunities of the holders of 

In the past the significance of stratification by status was far more 
decisive, above all, for the economic structure of the societies. For, on the 
one hand, status stratification influences the economic structure by bar- 
riers or regulations of consumption, and by status monopolies which 
from the point of view of economic rationality are irrational, and on 
the other hand, status stratification influences the economy very strongly 
through the bearing of the status conventions of the respective ruling 
strata who set the example. These conventions may be in the nature of 
ritualist stereotyped forms, which to a large extent has been the case / 
with the status stratification of Asia. 

XII. Tne Protestant Sects and tne Opirit ol 

For some time in the United States a principled 'separation of state and 
church' has existed. This separation is carried through so strictly that 
there is not even an official census o£ denominations, for it would be 
considered against the law for the state even to ask the citizen for his 
denomination. We shall not here discuss the practical importance of 
this principle of the relation between religious organizations and the 
state.* We are interested, rather, in the fact that scarcely two and a half 
decades ago the number of 'persons without church affiliation' in the 
U.S.A. was estimated to be only about 6 per cent; ^ and this despite the 
absence of all those highly effective premiums which most of the Euro- 
pean states then placed upon affiliation with certain privileged churches 
and despite the immense immigration to the U.S.A. 

It should be realized, in addition, that church affiliation in the U.S.A. 
brings with it incomparably higher financial burdens, especially for the 
poor, than anywhere in Germany. Published family budgets prove this, 
and I have personally known of many burdened cases in a congrega- 
tion in a city on Lake Erie, which was almost entirely composed of 
German immigrant lumberjacks. Their regular contributions for religious 
purposes amounted to almost |8o annually, being paid out of an average 
annual income of about $i,ooo. Everyone knows that even a small frac- 
tion of this financial burden in Germany would lead to a mass exodus 
from the church. But quite apart from that, nobody who visited the 
United States fifteen or twenty years ago, that is, before the recent 
Europeanization of the country began, could overlook the very intense 
church-mindedness which then prevailed in all regions not yet flooded 

'Die Protestantischen Sekten und der Geist des Kapitalismus,' Gesammelte Aufsaetze zur 
Religionssoziologie, vol. i, pp. 207-36. 

* The principle is often only dieoretical; note the importance of the Catholic vote, as 
well as subsidies to confessional schools. 



by European immigrants.* Every old travel book reveals that formerly 
church-mindedness in America went unquestioned, as compared with 
recent decades, and was even far stronger. Here we are especially inter- 
ested in one aspect of this situation. 

Hardly a generation ago when businessmen were establishing them- 
selves and making new social contacts, they encountered the question: 
'To what church do you belong?' This was asked unobtrusively and in 
a manner that seemed to be apropos, but evidently it was never asked 
accidentally. Even in Brooklyn, New York's twin city, this older tradi- 
tion was retained to a strong degree, and the more so in communities 
less exposed to the influence of immigration. This question reminds one 
of the typical Scotch table d'hote, where a quarter of a century ago the 
continental European on Sundays almost always had to face the situation 
of a lady's asking, 'What service did you attend today?' Or, if the Con- 
tinental, as the oldest guest, should happen to be seated at the head of 
the table, the waiter when serving the soup would ask him: 'Sir, the 
prayer, please.' In Portree (Skye) on one beautiful Sunday I faced this 
typical question and did not know any better way out than to remark: 
'I am a member of the Badische Landes\irche and could not find a 
chapel of my church in Portree.' The ladies were pleased and satisfied 
with the answer. 'Oh, he doesn't attend any service except that of his 
own denomination!' 

If one looked more closely at the matter in the United States, one 
could easily see that the question of religious affiliation was almost 
always posed in social life and in business life which depended on per- 
manent and credit relations. However, as mentioned above, the Ameri- 
can authorities never posed the question. Why? 

First, a few personal observations [from 1904] may serve as illustra- 
tions. On a long railroad journey through what was then Indian terri- 
tory, the author, sitting next to a traveling salesman of 'undertaker's 
hardware' (iron letters for tombstones), casually mentioned the still 
impressively strong church-mindedness. Thereupon the salesman re- 
marked, 'Sir, for my part everybody may believe or not believe as he 
pleases; but if I saw a farmer or a businessman not belonging to any 
church at all, I wouldn't trust him with fifty cents. Why pay me, if he 
doesn't believe in anything?' Now that was a somewhat vague motiva- 

* The opening by prayer of not only every session of the U. S. Supreme Court but 
also of every Party Convention has been an annoying ceremonial for quite some time. 


The matter became somewhat clearer from the story of a German-born 
nose-and-throat specialist, who had established himself in a large city on 
the Ohio River and who told me of the visit of his first patient. Upon 
the doctor's request, he lay down upon the couch to be examined with 
the [aid of a] nose reflector. The patient sat up once and remarked with 

dignity and emphasis, 'Sir, I am a member of the Baptist Church in 

Street.' Puzzled about what meaning this circumstance might have 

for the disease of the nose and its treatment, the doctor discreetly in- 
quired about the matter from an American colleague. The colleague 
smihngly informed him that the patient's statement of his church mem- 
bership was merely to say: 'Don't worry about the fees.' But why should 
it mean precisely that? Perhaps this will become still clearer from a 
third happening. 

On a beautiful clear Sunday afternoon early in October I attended a 
baptism ceremony of a Baptist congregation. I was in the company of 
some relatives who were farmers in the backwoods some miles out of 
M. [a county seat] in North Carohna. The baptism was to take place in 
a pool fed by a brook which descended from the Blue Ridge Mountains, 
visible in the distance. It was cold and it had been freezing during the 
night. Masses of farmers' families were standing all around the slopes 
of the hills; they had come, some from great distances, some from the 
neighborhood, in their light two-wheeled buggies. 

The preacher in a black suit stood waist deep in the pond. After prep- 
arations of various sorts, about ten persons of both sexes in their Sunday- 
best stepped into the pond, one after another. They avowed their faith 
and then were immersed completely — the women in the preacher's arms. 
They came up, shaking and shivering in their wet clothes, stepped out 
of the pond, and everybody 'congratulated' them. They were quickly 
wrapped in thick blankets and then they drove home. One of my rela- 
tives commented that 'faith' provides unfailing protection against sneezes. 
Another relative stood beside me and, being unchurchly in accordance 
with German traditions, he looked on, spitting disdainfully over his 
shoulder. He spoke to one of those baptised, 'Hello, Bill, wasn't the 
water pretty cool?' and received the very earnest reply, ^]t^, I thought 
of some pretty hot place (Hell!), and so I didn't mind the cool water.' 
During the immersion of one of the young men, my relative was star- 

'Look at him,' he said. 'I told you so!' 

When I asked him after the ceremony, 'Why did you anticipate the 


baptism of that man?' he answered, 'Because he wants to open a bank 

'Are there so many Baptists around that he can make a Hving?' 

'Not at all, but once being baptised he will get the patronage of the 
whole region and he will outcompete everybody.' 

Further questions of 'why' and 'by what means' led to the following 
conclusion: Admission to the local Baptist congregation follows only 
upon the most careful 'probation' and after closest inquiries into conduct 
going back to early childhood (Disorderly conduct? Frequenting tav- 
erns? Dance? Theatre? Card Playing? Untimely meeting of liability? 
Other Frivolities?) The congregation still adhered strictly to the religious 

/ Admission to the congregation is recognized as an absolute guarantee 
of the moral qualities of a gentleman, especially of those qualities re- 
quired in business matters^' Baptism secures to the individual the deposits 
of the whole region and unlimited credit without any competition. He 
is a 'made man.' Further observation confirmed that these, or at least 
very similar phenomena, recur in the most varied regions. In general, 
only those men had success in business who belonged to Methodist or 
Baptist or other sects or sectlike conventicles. When a sect member moved 
to a different place, or if he was a traveling salesman, he carried the 
certificate of his congregation with him; and thereby he found not only 
easy contact with sect members but, above all, he found credit every- 
where. If he got into economic straits through no fault of his own, the 
sect arranged his affairs, gave guarantees to the creditors, and helped 
him in every way, often according to the Biblical principle, mutuum 
date nihil inde sperantes. (Luke vi:35) 

The expectation of the creditors that his sect, for the sake of their 
prestige, would not allow creditors to suffer losses on behalf of a sect 
member was not, however, decisive for his opportunities. What was 
decisive was the fact that a fairly reputable sect would only accept for 
membership one whose 'conduct' made him appear to be morally quali- 
fied beyond doubt. 

It is crucial that sect membership meant a certificate of moral qualifi- 
cation and especially of business morals for the individual. This stands 
in contrast to membership in a 'church' into which one is 'born' and 
which lets grace shine over the righteous and the unrighteous alike. 
Indeed, a church is a corporation which organizes grace and administers 


religious gifts of grace, like an endowed foundation. AfRliation with the 
church is, in principle, obligatory and hence proves nothing with regard 
to the member's qualities. A sect, however, is a voluntary association of 
only those who, according to the principle, are religiously and morally 
qualified. If one finds voluntary reception of his membership, by virtue 
of religious probation, he joins the sect voluntarily. 

It is, of course, an established fact that this selection has often been 
very strongly counteracted, precisely in America, through the proselyting 
of souls by competing sects, which, in part, was strongly determined by 
the material interests of the preachers. Hence, cartels for the restriction 
of proselyting have frequently existed among the competing denomina- 
tions. Such cartels were formed, for instance, in order to exclude the 
easy wedding of a person who had been divorced for reasons which, 
from a religious point of view, were considered insufficient. Religious 
organizations that facilitated remarriage had great attraction. Some Bap- 
tist communities are said at times to have been lax in this respect, whereas 
the Catholic as well as the Lutheran (Missouri) churches were praised 
for their strict correctness. This correctness, however, allegedly reduced 
the membership of both churches. 

Expulsion from one's sect for moral offenses has meant, economically, 
loss of credit and, socially, being declassed. 

Numerous observations during the following months confirmed not 
only that church-mindedness per se, although still (1904) rather im- 
portant, was rapidly dying out; but the particularly important trait, 
mentioned above, was definitely confirmed. In metropolitan areas I was 
spontaneously told, in several cases, that a speculator in undeveloped 
real estate would regularly erect a church building, often an extremely 
modest one; then he would hire a candidate from one of the various 
theological seminaries, pay him $500 to $600, and hold out to him a 
splendid position as a preacher for life if he would gather a congregation 
and thus preach the building terrain 'full.' Deteriorated churchlike 
structures which marked failures were shown to me. For the most part, 
however, the preachers were said to be successful. Neighborly contact, 
Sunday School, and so on, were said to be indispensable to the new- 
comer, but above all association with 'morally' reliable neighbors. 

Competition among sects is strong, among other things, through the 
kind of material and spiritual offerings at evening teas of the congrega- 
tions. Among genteel churches also, musical presentations contribute to 


this competition. (A tenor in Trinity Church, Boston, who allegedly had 
to sing on Sundays only, at that time received $8,000.) Despite this sharp 
competition, the sects often maintained fairly good mutual relations. 
For instance, in the service of the Methodist church which I attended, 
the Baptist ceremony of the baptism, which I mentioned above, was 
recommended as a spectacle to edify everybody. In the main, the congre- 
gations refused entirely to listen to the preaching of 'dogma' and to con- 
fessional distinctions. 'Ethics' alone could be offered. In those instances 
where I Ustened to sermons for the middle classes, the typical bourgeois 
morality, respectable and solid, to be sure, and of the most homely and 
sober kind, was preached. But the sermons were delivered with obvious 
inner conviction; the preacher was often moved. 

Today the kind of denomination [to which one belongs] is rather 
irrelevant. It does not matter whether one be Freemason,* Christian 
Scientist, Adventist, Quaker, or what not. What is decisive is that one 
be admitted to membership by 'ballot,' after an examination and an 
ethical probation in the sense of the virtues which are at a premium for 
the inner-worldly asceticism of protestantism and hence, for the ancient 
puritan tradition. Then, the same effect could be observed. 

Closer scrutiny revealed the steady progress of the characteristic proc- 
ess of 'secularization,' to which in modern times all phenomena that 
originated in religious conceptions succumb. Not only religious associa- 
tions, hence sects, had this effect on American life. Sects exercised this 
influence, rather, in a steadily decreasing proportion. If one paid some 
attention it was striking to observe (even fifteen years ago) that sur- 
prisingly many men among the American middle classes (always 
outside of the quite modern metropolitan areas and the immigration 
centers) were wearing a little badge (of varying color) in the button- 
hole, which reminded one very closely of the rosette of the French 
Legion of Honor. 

When asked what it meant, people regularly mentioned an association 
with a sometimes adventurous and fantastic name. And it became obvi- 
ous that its significance and purpose consisted in the following: Almost 
always the association functioned as a burial insurance, besides offering 

* An assistant of Semitic languages in an eastern university told me that he regretted 
not having become 'master of the chair,' for then he would go back into business. When 
asked what good that would do the answer was: As a traveling salesman or seller he 
could present himself in a role famous for respectability. He could beat any competition 
and would be worth his weight in gold. 


greatly varied services. But often, and especially in those areas least 
touched by modern disintegration, the association oflered the member 
the (ethical) claim for brotherly help on the part of every brother who 
had the means. If he faced an economic emergency for which he himself 
was not to be blamed, he could make this claim. And in several instances 
that came to my notice at the time, this claim again followed the very 
principle, mutuitm date nihil inde sperantes, or at least a very low 
rate of interest prevailed. Apparently, such claims were willingly recog- 
nized by the members of the brotherhood. Furthermore— and this is the 
main point in this instance — membership was again acquired through 
balloting after investigation and a determination of moral worth. And 
hence the badge in the buttonhole meant, 'I am a gentleman patented 
after investigation and probation and guaranteed by my membership.' 
Again, this meant, in business life above all, tested credit worthiness. 
One could observe that business opportunities were often decisively in- 
fluenced by such legitimation. 

AH these phenomena, which seemed to be rather rapidly disintegrating 
— at least the religious organizations — were essentially confined to the 
middle classes. Some cultured Americans often dismissed these facts 
briefly and with a certain angry disdain as 'humbug' or backwardness, 
or they even denied them; many of them actually did not know any- 
thing about them, as was affirmed to me by William James. Yet these 
survivals were still alive in many diflferent fields, and sometimes in forms 
which appeared to be grotesque. 

These associations were especially the typical vehicles of social ascent 
into the circle of the entrepreneurial middle class. They served to diffuse 
and to maintain the bourgeois capitalist business ethos among the broad 
strata of the middle classes (the farmers included). 

As is well known, not a few (one may well say the majority of the 
older generation) of the American 'promoters,' 'captains of industry,' 
of the multi-millionaires and trust magnates belonged formally to sects, 
especiaUy to the Baptists. However, in the nature of the case, these 
persons were often affiliated for merely conventional reasons, as in 
Germany, and only in order to legitimate themselves in personal 
and social life — not in order to legitimate themselves as businessmen; 
during the age of the Puritans, such 'economic supermen' did not 
require such a crutch, and their 'religiosity' was, of course, often of a 
more than dubious sincerity. The middle classes, above all the strata 


ascending with and out of the middle classes, were the bearers of that 
specific religious orientation which one must, indeed, beware viewing 
among them as only opportunistically determined.* Yet one must never 
overlook that without the universal diffusion of these qualities and prin- 
ciples of a methodical way of life, qualities which were maintained 
through these religious communities, capitalism today, even in America, 
would not be what it is. In the history of any economic area on earth 
there is no epoch, [except] those quite rigid in feudalism or patrimonial- 
ism, in which capitalist figures of the kind of Pierpont Morgan, Rocke- 
feller, Jay Gould, et al. were absent. Only the technical means which 
they used for the acquisition of wealth have changed (of course!). They 
stood and they stand 'beyond good and evil.' But, however high one 
may otherwise evaluate their importance for economic transformation, 
they have never been decisive in determining what economic mentality 
was to dominate a given epoch and a given area. Above all, they were 
not the creators and they were not to become the bearers of the specifi- 
cally Occidental bourgeois mentality. 

This is not the place to discuss in detail the political and social im- 
portance of the religious sects and the numerous similarly exclusive 
associations and clubs in America which are based upon recruitment by 
ballot. The entire life of a typical Yankee of the last generation led 
through a series of such exclusive associations, beginning with the Boys' 
Club in school, proceeding to the Athletic Club or the Greek Letter 
Society or to another student club of some nature, then onward to one of 
the numerous notable clubs of businessmen and the bourgeoisie, or 
finally to the clubs of the metropolitan plutocracy. To gain admission 
was identical to a ticket of ascent, especially with a certificate before the 
forum of one's self-feeling; to gain admission meant to have 'proved' 
oneself. A student in college who was not admitted to any club (or 
quasi-society) whatsoever was usually a sort of pariah. (Suicides be- 
cause of failure to be admitted have come to my notice.) A businessman, 
clerk, technician, or doctor who had the same fate usually was of ques- 
tionable ability to serve. Today, numerous clubs of this sort are bearers 

* 'Hypocrisy' and conventional opportunism in these matters were hardly stronger de- 
veloped in America than in Germany where, after all, an officer or civil servant 'without 
religious affiliation or preference' was also an impossibility. And a Berlin ('Aryan!') Lord 
Mayor was not confirmed officially because he failed to have one of his children baptised. 
Only the direction in which conventional 'hypocrisy' moved differed: official careers in 
Germany, business opportunities in the United States. 


of those tendencies leading toward aristocratic status groups which char- 
acterize contemporary American development. These status groups de- 
velop alongside of and, what has to be well noted, partly in contrast to 
the naked plutocracy. 

In America mere 'money' in itself also purchases power, but not social 
honor. Of course, it is a means of acquiring social prestige. It is the same 
in Germany and everywhere else; except in Germany the appropriate 
avenue to social honor led from the purchase of a feudal estate to the 
foundation of an entailed estate, and acquisition of titular nobility, which 
in turn facilitated the reception of the grandchildren in aristocratic 'so- 
ciety.' In America, the old tradition respected the self-made man more 
than the heir, and the avenue to social honor consisted in affiliation with 
a genteel fraternity in a distinguished college, formerly with a distin- 
guished sect (for instance, Presbyterian, in whose churches in New York 
one could find soft cushions and fans in the pews). At the present time, 
affiliation with a distinguished club is essential above all else. In addition, 
the kind of home is important (in 'the street' which in middle-sized 
cities is almost never lacking) and the kind of dress and sport. Only 
recently descent from the Pilgrim fathers, from Pocahontas and other 
Indian ladies, et cetera has become important. This is not the place for 
a more detailed treatment. There are masses of translating bureaus and 
agencies of all sorts concerned with reconstructing the pedigrees of the 
plutocracy. All these phenomena, often highly grotesque, belong in the 
broad field of the Europeanization of American 'society.' 

In the past and up to the very present, it has been a characteristic pre- 
cisely of the specifically American democracy that it did not constitute 
a formless sand heap of individuals, but rather a buzzing complex of 
strictly exclusive, yet voluntary associations. Not so long ago these 
associations still did not recognize the prestige of birth and inherited 
wealth, of the office and educational diploma; at least they recognized 
these things to such a low degree as has only very rarely been the case 
in the rest of the world. Yet, even so, these associations were far from 
accepting anybody with open arms as an equal. To be sure, fifteen years 
ago an American farmer would not have led his guest past a plowing 
farmhand (American born!) in the field without making his guest 
'shake hands' with the worker after formally introducing them. 

Formerly, in a typical American club nobody would remember that 
the two members, for instance, who play billiards once stood in the 
relation of boss and clerk. Here equality of gentlemen prevailed abso- 



lutely.* To be sure, the American worker's wife accompanying the 
trade unionist to lunch had completely accommodated herself in dress 
and behavior, in a somewhat plainer and more awkward fashion, to the 
bourgeois lady's model. 

He who wished to be fully recognized in this democracy, in whatever 
position, had not only to conform to the conventions of bourgeois so- 
ciety, the very strict men's fashions included, but as a rule he had to be 
able to show that he had succeeded in gaining admission by ballot to one 
of the sects, clubs, or fraternal societies, no matter what kind, were it 
only recognized as sufficiently legitimate. And he had to maintain him- 
self in the society by proving himself to be a gentleman. The parallel in 
Germany consists in the importance of the Couleur^ and the commis- 
sion of an officer of the reserve for commercium and connubiurn, and 
the great status significance of qualifying to give satisfaction by duel. 
The thing is the same, but the direction and material consequence char- 
acteristically differ. 

He who did not succeed in joining was no gentleman; he who despised 
doing so, as was usual among Germans, $ had to take the hard road, 
and especially so in business life. 

However, as mentioned above, we shall not here analyze the social 
significance of these conditions, which are undergoing a profound trans- 
formation. First, we are interested in the fact that the modern position 
of the secular clubs and societies with recruitment by ballot is largely 
the product of a process of secularization. Their position is derived from 
the far more exclusive importance of the prototype of these voluntary 
associations, to wit, the sects. They stem, indeed, from the sects in the 
homeland of genuine Yankeedom, the North Atlantic states. Let us 
recall, first, that the universal and equal franchise within American 
democracy (of the Whites! for Negroes and all mixtures have, even 
today, no de facto franchise) and Ukewise the 'separation of state and 
church' are only achievements of the recent past, beginning essentially 
with the nineteenth century. Let us remember that during the colonial 

*This was not always the case in the German-American clubs. When asking young 
German merchants in New York (with the best Hanseatic names) why they all strove 
to be admitted to an American club instead of the very nicely furnished German one, they 
answered that their (German- American) bosses would play billiards with them occasionally, 
however not without making them realize that thev (the bosses) thought themselves to be 
'very nice' in doing so. 

t Student fraternity, comparable to a 'Greek letter society.' 

t But note above. Enuy into an American club (in school or later) is always the decisive 
moment for the loss of German nationality. 


period in the central areas of New England, especially in Massachusetts, 
full citizenship status in the church congregation was the precondition 
for full citizenship in the state (besides some other prerequisites). The 
religious congregation indeed determined admission or non-admission 
to poHtical citizenship status.^ 

The decision was made according to whether or not the person had 
proved his religious qualification through conduct, in the broadest mean- 
ing of the word, as was the case among all Puritan sects. The Quakers in 
Pennsylvania were not in any lesser way masters of that state until some 
time before the War of Independence. This was actually the case, though 
formally they were not the only full political citizens. They were political 
masters only by virtue of extensive gerrymandering. 

The tremendous social significance of admission to full enjoyment of 
the rights of the sectarian congregation, especially the privilege of being 
admitted to the Lord's Supper, worked among the sects in the direction 
of breeding that ascetist professional ethic which was adequate to mod- 
ern capitalism during the period of its origin. It can be demonstrated 
that everywhere, including Europe, the religiosity of the ascetist sects 
has for several centuries worked in the same way as has been illustrated 
by the personal experiences mentioned above for [the case of] America. 

When focusing on the religious background * of these Protestant sects, 
we find in their literary documents, especially among those of the 
Quakers and Baptists up to and throughout the seventeenth century, 
again and again jubilation over the fact that the sinful 'children of the 
world' distrust one another in business but that they have confidence in 
the religiously determined righteousness of the pious.° 

Hence, they give credit and deposit their money only with the pious, 
and they make purchases in their stores because there, and there alone, 
they are given honest and fixed prices. As is known, the Baptists have 
always claimed to have first raised this price policy to a principle. In 
addition to the Baptists, the Quakers raise the claim, as the following 
quotation shows, to which Mr. Eduard Bernstein drew my attention at 
the time: 

Bu t it w as not^jmly in matters which related to the law of the land where 
the primitive members held their words and engagements sacred. This trait 
was remarked to be true of them in their concerns of trade. On their first 
appearance as a society, they suffered as tradesmen because others, displeased 
with the peculiarity of their manners, withdrew their custom from their shops. 
But in a little time the great outcry against them was that they got the trade 


°|j^^_^°""^T into their hands. This outcry arose in part from a strict ex- 
emption~of all commercial agreements between them and others and because 
they never as\ed two prices for the commodities they sold.^ 

The v iew that the gods bless with riches the man who pleases them, 
through sacrifice or through his kind of conduct, was indeed diffused 
all over the world. However, the Protestant sects consciously brought 
this idea into connection with this kjnd of religious conduct, according 
to the principle of early capitaHsm: 'Honesty is the best policy.' This 
connection is found, although not quite exclusively, among these Prot- 
estant sects, but with characteristic continuity and consistency it is found 
only among them. 

The whole typically bourgeois ethic was from the beginning common 
to all aceticist sects and conventicles and it is identical with the ethic 
practiced by the sects in America up to the very present. The Methodists, 
for example, held to be forbidden: 

(i) to make words when buying and selling ('haggling') 

(2) to trade with commodities before the custom. tariff has been paid 

on them (,V7^S ( kW-^^^ ^ U^ ^ ^^^ 

(3) to charge rates of interest higher than the law of the country per- 

7(4) 'to gather treasures on earth' (meaning the transformation of in- 
vestment capital into 'funded wealth' 

(5) to borrow without being sure of one's ability to pay back the debt 

(6) luxuries of all sorts 

But it is not only this ethic, already discussed in detail,* which goes 
back to the early beginnings of asceticist sects. Above all, the social 
premiums, the means of discipline, and, in general, the whole organiza- 
tional basis of Protestant sectarianism with all its ramifications reach 
back to those beginnings. The survivals in contemporary America are 
the derivatives of a religious regulation of life which once worked with 
penetrating efficiency. Let us, in a brief survey, clarify the nature of these 
sects and the mode and direction of their operation. 

Within Protestantism the principle of the 'believer's church' first 
emerged distinctly among the Baptists in Ziirich in 1523-4.' This princi- 
ple restricted the congregation to 'true' Christians; hence, it meant a 
voluntary association of really sanctified people segregated from the 

* In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. 


world. Thomas Miinzer had rejected infant baptism; but he did not 
take the next step, which demanded repeated baptism of adults baptized 
as children (anabaptism). Following Thomas Miinzer, the Ziirich Bap- 
tists in 1525 introduced adult baptism (possibly including anabaptism). 
Migrant journeymen-artisans were the main bearers of the Baptist move- 
ment. After each suppression they carried it to new areas. Here we shall 
not discuss in detail the individual forms of this voluntarist inner-worldly 
asceticism of the Old Baptists, the Mennonites, the Baptists, the Quakers, 
nor shall we again describe how every asceticist denomination, Calvin- 
ism^ and Methodism included, were again and again constrained into 
the same path. 

This resulted either in the conventicle of the exemplary Christians 
within the church (Pietism), or else the community of religious 'full 
citizens,' legitimated as faultless, became masters over the church. The 
rest of the members merely belonged as 1 passive status group, as minor 
Christians subject to discipline (Independents). 

In Protestantism the external and internal conflict of the two structural 
principles — of the 'church' as a compulsory association for the adminis- 
tration of grace, and of the 'sect' as a voluntary association of religiously 
qualified persons — runs through the centuries from Zwingli to Kuyper 
and Stocker. Here we merely wish to consider those consequences of the 
voluntarist principle which are practically important in their influence 
upon conduct. In addition, we recall merely that the decisive idea of 
keeping the Lord's Supper pure, and therefore excluding unsanctified 
persons, led also to a way of treating church discipline among those 
denominations which failed to form sects. It was especially the predes- 
tinarian Puritans who, in effect, approached the discipline of the sects.^ 

The central social significance of the Lord's Supper for the Christian 
communities is evidenced in this. For the sects themselves, the idea of 
the purity of the sacramental communion was decisive at the very time 
of their origin.^" Immediately the first consistent voluntarist, Browne, in 
his 'Treatise of Reformation without tarying for anie' (presumably 1582), 
emphasized the compulsion to hold communion at the Lord's Supper 
with 'wicked men' as the main reason for rejecting Episcopalianism and 
Presbyterianism." The Presbyterian church struggled in vain to settle 
the problem. Already under Elizabeth (Wandworth Conference) this 
was the decisive point.* 

*The English Presbyterians under Elizabeth wished to recognize the 39 articles of the 
Church of England (with reservations concerning articles 34 to 36, which are here of no 


The question of who might exclude a person from the Lord's Supper 
played an ever-recurrent role in the Parliament of the English Revolution. 
At first (1645) ministers and elders, that is, laymen, were to decide these 
matters freely. Parliament attempted to determine those cases in which 
exclusion should be permissible. All other cases were to be made depend- 
ent on the consent of Parliament. This meant 'Erastianism,' against which 
the Westminster Assembly protested sharply. 

The Independent party excelled in that it admitted only persons with 
tickets to communion, besides the local residents recognized to be in good 
standing. Members from outside congregations received tickets only upon 
recommendation by qualified members. The certificates of qualification 
(letters of recommendation), which were issued in case of removal to 
another place or in case of travel, also occur in the seventeenth cen- 
tury. ^^ Within the official church, Baxter's conventicles (associations), 
which in 1657 were introduced in sixteen counties, were to be established 
as a kind of voluntary censorship bureau. These would assist the minister 
in determining the qualification and exclusion of scandalous persons 
from the Lord's Supper.^^ The 'five dissenting brethren' of the Westmin- 
ster Assembly — upper-class refugees who had lived in Holland — had 
already aimed at similar ends when they proposed to permit voluntaristic 
congregations to exist beside the parish and also to grant them the right 
to vote for delegates to the synod. The entire church history of New 
England is filled with struggles over such questions: who was to be ad- 
mitted to the sacraments (or, for instance, as a godfather), v,^hether 
the children of non-admitted persons could be baptized,* under what 
clauses the latter could be admitted, and similar questions. The difficulty 
was that not only was the worthy person allowed to receive the Lord's 
Supper, but he had to receive it.^* Hence, if the believer doubted his own 
worth and decided to stay away from the Lord's Supper, the decision did 
not remove his sin.^^ The congregation, on the other hand, was jointly 
responsible to the Lord for keeping unworthy and especially reprobated 
persons ^^ away from communion, for purity's sake. Thus the congrega- 
tion was jointly and especially responsible for the administration of the 
sacrament by a worthy minister in a state of grace. Therewith, the pri- 
mordial problems of church constitution were resurrected. In vain Bax- 
ter's compromise proposal attempted to mediate by suggesting that at 
least in case of an emergency the sacrament should be received from an 
unworthy minister, thus from one whose conduct was questionable.^^ 

*Even the Brownist petition to King James o£ 1603 protested against this. 


The ancient Donatist principle of personal charisma stood in hard and 
unmitigated opposition to the principle of the church as an institution 
administering grace/^ as in the time of early Christianity. The principle 
of instituted grace was radically established in the Catholic Church 
through the priest's character indelebilis, but it also dominated the official 
churches of the Reformation. The uncompromising radicalism of the 
Independentist world of ideas rested upon the religious responsibility of 
the congregation as a whole. This held for the worthiness of the ministers 
as well as for the brethren admitted to communion. And that is how 
things still stand in principle. 

As is known, the Kuyper schism in Holland during recent decades 
had far-reaching political ramifications. It originated in the following 
manner: Against the claims of the Synodal church government of the 
Herformde Kerk der Nederlanden, the elders of a church in Am.sterdam, 
hence laymen, with the later prime minister Kuyper (who was also a 
plain lay elder) at the helm, refused to acknowledge the confirmation 
certificates of preachers of outside congregations as sufficient for admis- 
sion to communion if from their standpoint such outside preachers were 
unworthy or unbelieving.^® In substance, this was precisely the antag- 
onism between Presbyterians and Independents during the sixteenth 
century; for consequences of the greatest importance emerged from the 
joint responsibility of the congregation. Next to the voluntarist principle, 
that is, free admission of the qualified, and of the qualified alone, as 
members of the congregation, we find the principle of the sovereignty 
of the local sacramental community. Only the local religious community, 
by virtue of personal acquaintance and investigation, could judge whether 
a member were qualified. But a church government of an inter-local 
association could not do so, however freely elected such church govern- 
ment might be. The local congregation could discriminate only if the 
number of members were restricted. Hence, in principle, only relatively 
small congregations were appropriate."" 

Where the communities were too large for this, either conventicles 
were formed, as in Pietism, or the members were organized in groups, 
which, in turn, were the bearers of church discipline, as in Methodism."^ 

The extraordinarily strict moral discipline "^ of the self-governing con- 
gregation constituted the third principle. This was unavoidable because 
of the interest in the purity of the sacramental community (or, as among 
the Quakers, the interest in the purity of the community of prayer) . The 
discipHne of the asceticist sect was, in fact, far more rigorous than the 


discipline o£ any church. In this respect, the sect resembles the monastic 
order. The sect discipline is also analogous to monastic discipline in that 
it established the principle of the novitiate.* In contrast to the principles 
of the official Protestant churches, persons expelled because of moral 
offenses were often denied all intercourse with the members of the con- 
gregation. The sect thus invoked an absolute boycott against them, which 
included business Hfe. Occasionally the sect avoided any relation with 
non-brethren except in cases of absolute necessity."^ And the sect placed 
disciplinary power predominantly into the hands of laymen. No spiritual 
authority could assume the community's joint responsibility before God. 
The weight of the lay elders was very great even among the Presby- 
terians. However, the Independents, and even more, the Baptists signified 
a struggle against the domination of the congregation by theologians."* 
In exact correspondence this struggle led naturally to the clericalization 
of the lay members, who now took over the functions of moral control 
through self-government, admonition, and possible excommunication.^^ 
The domination of laymen in the church found its expression, in part, 
in the quest for freedom of the layman to preach (liberty of prophesy- 
ing).^^ In legitimizing this demand, reference was made to the condi- 
tions of the early Christian community. This demand was not only very 
shocking to the Lutheran idea of the pastoral office but also to the Pres- 
byterian idea of God's order. The domination of laymen, in part, found 
its expression in an opposition to any professional theologian and 
preacher. Only charisma, neither training nor office, should be recog- 
nized, t 

The Quakers have adhered to the principle that in the religious assem- 
bly anyone could speak, but he alone should speak who was moved by 
the spirit. Hence no professional minister exists at all. To be sure, today 
this is, in all probability, nowhere radically effected. The official 'legend' 
is that members who, in the experience of the congregation, are espe- 
cially accessible to the spirit during service are seated upon a special 
bench opposite the congregation. In profound silence the people wait for 
the spirit to take possession of one of them (or of some other member 
of the congregation). But during service in a Pennsylvania college, un- 
fortunately and against my hopes, the spirit did not take hold of the 

* In all probability among all sects there existed a period of probation. Among the 
Methodists, for example, it lasted for six months. 

t Already Smyth in Amsterdam demanded that when preaching the regenerate must not 
even have the Bible in front of him. 


plainly and beautifully costumed old lady who was seated on the bench 
and whose charisma was so highly praised. Instead, undoubtedly by 
agreement, the spirit took hold of a brave college librarian who gave a 
very learned lecture on the concept of the 'saint,' 

To be sure, other sects have not drawn such radical conclusions, or at 
least not for good. However, either the minister is not active principally 
as a 'hireling,' "^ holding only honorific position, or else he serves for 
voluntary honorific donations.* Again his ministerial service may be a 
secondary occupation and only for the refunding of his expenses; f or he 
can be dismissed at any time; or a sort of missionary organization pre- 
vails with itinerant preachers ^^ working only once in a while in the same 
'circuit,' as is the case with Methodism.^^ Where the office (in the tra- 
ditional sense) and hence the theological qualification were maintained,^" 
such skill was considered as a mere technical and specialist prerequisite. 
However, the really decisive quality was the charisma of the state of 
grace, and the authorities were geared to discern it. 

Authorities, like Cromwell's triers (local bodies for the handling of 
certificates of religious qualification) and the ejectors (ministerial dis- 
ciplinary office), t had to examine the fitness of the ministers to serve. 
The charismatic character of authority is seen to have been preserved in 
the same way in which the charismatic character of the membership in 
the community itself was preserved. Just as Cromwell's army of Saints 
allowed only religiously qualified persons to pass the Lord's Supper to 
them, so Cromwell's soldiers refused to go into battle under an officer 
who did not belong to his sacramental community of the religiously 

Internally, among the sect members, the spirit of early Christian 
brotherliness prevailed, at least among the early Baptists and derived 
denominations; or at least brotherliness was demanded.^" Among some 
sects it was considered taboo to call on the law courts. § In case of need, 
mutual aid was obligatory.^^ Naturally, business dealings with non- 

*The latter was demanded for all preachers in the Agreement of the People of i May 

tThus the local preachers of the Methodists. 

JThus, in accordance with the proposal of 1652 and essentially also in accordance with 
the church constitution of 1654. 

§ The Methodists have often attempted to sanction the appeal to the secular judge by 
expulsion. On the other hand, in several cases, they have established authorities upon 
which one could call if debtors did not pay promptly. 


members were not interdicted (except occasionally among wholly radical 
communities) . 

Yet it was self-understood that one preferred the brethren.* From the 
very beginning, one finds the system of certificates (concerning mem- 
bership and conduct),^* which were given to members who moved to 
another place. The charities of the Quakers were so highly developed 
that in consequence of the burdens incurred their inclination to propa- 
gandize was finally crippled. The cohesiveness of the congregations was 
so great that, with good reason, it is said to be one of the factors deter- 
mining New England settlements. In contrast to the South, New Eng- 
land settlements were generally compact and, from the beginning, 
strongly urban in character, f 

It is obvious that in all these points the modern functions of American 
sects and sectlike associations, as described in the beginning of this 
essay, are revealed as straight derivatives, rudiments, and survivals of 
those conditions which once prevailed in all asceticist sects and conven- 
ticles. Today they are decaying. Testimony for the sectarian's immensely 
exclusive 'pride in caste' has existed from the very beginning, t 

Now, what part of this whole development was and is actually decisive 
for our problem? Excommunication in the Middle Ages also had po- 
litical and civic consequences. Formally this was even harsher than 
where sect freedom existed. Moreover, in the Middle Ages only Chris- 
tians could be full citizens. During the Middle Ages it was also possible 
to proceed through the disciplinary powers of the church against a bishop 
who would not pay his debts, and, as Aloys Schulte has beautifully 
shown, this possibility gave the bishop a credit rating over and above a 
secular prince. Likewise, the fact that a Prussian Lieutenant was subject 
to discharge if he was incapable of paying off debts provided a higher 
credit rating for him. And the same held for the German fraternity 
student. Oral confession and the disciplinary power of the church during 
the Middle Ages also provided the means to enforce church discipline 
effectively. Finally, to secure a legal claim, the opportunity provided by 
the oath was exploited to secure excommunication of the debtor. 

* With the Methodists this is expressly prescribed. 

t Doyle in his work which we have repeatedly cited ascribes the industrial character 
of New England, in contrast to the agrarian colonies, to this factor. 

t Cf., for example, Doyle's comments about the status conditions in New England, where 
the families bearing old religious literary tradition, not the 'propertied classes,' formed the 


In all these cases, however, the forms of behavior that were favored 
or tabooed through such conditions and means differed totally from 
those which Protestant asceticism bred or suppressed. With the lieuten- 
ant, for instance, or the fraternity student, and probably with the bishop 
as well, the enhanced credit rating certainly did not rest upon the breed- 
ing of personal qualities suitable for business; and following up this 
remark direcdy: even though the effects in all three cases were intended 
to have the same direction, they were worked out in quite different ways. 
The medieval, like the Lutheran church discipline, first, was vested in 
the hands of the ministerial officeholder; secondly, this discipline worked 
—as far as it was effective at all— through authoritarian means; and, 
thirdly, it punished and placed premiums upon concrete individual acts. 

The church discipline of the Puritans and of the sects was vested, first, 
at least in part and often wholly, in the hands of laymen. Secondly, it 
worked through the necessity of one's having to hold one's own; and, 
thirdly, it bred or, if one wishes, selected qualities. The last point is the 
most important one. 

The member of the sect (or conventicle) had to have qualities of a 
certain kind in order to enter the community circle. Being endowed with 
these qualities was important for the development of rational modern 
capitalism, as has been shown in the first essay.* In order to hold his own 
in this circle, the member had to prove repeatedly that he was endowed 
with these qualities. They were constantly and continuously bred in 
him. For, like his bliss in the beyond, his whole social existence in the 
here and now depended upon his 'proving' himself. The Catholic con- 
fession of sins was, to repeat, by comparison a means of relieving the 
person from the tremendous internal pressure under which the sect mem- 
ber in his conduct was constantly held. How certain orthodox and hetero- 
dox religious communities of the Middle Ages have been forerunners 
of the ascetic denominations of Protestantism shall not here and now 
be discussed. 

According to all experience there is no stronger means of breeding 
traits than through the necessity of holding one's own in the circle of 
one's associates. The continuous and unobtrusive ethical discipline of the 
sects was, therefore, related to authoritarian church discipline as rational 
breeding and selection are related to ordering and forbidding. 

In this as in almost every other respect, the Puritan sects are the most 
specific bearers of the inner-worldly form of asceticism. Moreover, they 

* The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. 


are the most consistent and, in a certain sense, the only consistent antith- 
esis to the universahst Cathohc Church — a compulsory organization 
for the administration of grace. The Puritan sects put the most powerful 
individual interest of social self-esteem in the service of this breeding of 
traits. Hence individual motives and personal self-interests were also 
placed in the service of maintaining and propagating the 'bourgeois' 
Puritan ethic, with all its ramifications. This is absolutely decisive for its 
penetrating and for its powerful effect. 

To repeat, it is not the ethical doctrine of a religion, but that form of 
ethical conduct upon which premiums are placed that matters.^'' Such 
premiums operate through the form and the condition of the respective 
goods of salvation. And such conduct constitutes 'one's' specific 'ethos' in 
the sociological sense of the word. For Puritanism, that conduct was a 
certain methodical, rational way of life which — given certain conditions — 
paved the way for the 'spirit' of modern capitalism. The premiums were 
placed upon 'proving' oneself before God in the sense of attaining salva- 
tion — which is found in all Puritan denominations — and 'proving' one- 
self before men in the sense of socially holding one's own within the 
Puritan sects. Both aspects were mutually supplementary and operated 
in the same direction: they helped to deliver the 'spirit' of modern cap- 
italism, its specific ethos: the ethos of the modern bourgeois middle 

The ascetic conventicles and sects formed one of the most important 
historical foundations of modern 'individualism.' Their radical break 
away from patriarchal and authoritarian bondage,^" as well as their way 
of interpreting the statement that one owes more obedience to God than 
to man, was especially important. 

Finally, in order to understand the nature of these ethical effects, a 
comparative remark is required. In the guilds of the Middle Ages there 
was frequently a control of the general ethical standard of the members 
similar to that exercised by the discipline of the ascetic Protestant sects.^^ 
But the unavoidable difference in the effects of guild and of sect upon 
the economic conduct of the individual is obvious. 

The guild united members of the same occupation; hence it united 
competitors. It did so in order to hmit competition as well as the rational 
striving for profit which operated through competition. The guild trained 
for 'civic' virtues and, in a certain sense, was the bearer of bourgeois 
'rationalism' (a point which will not be discussed here in detail). The 
guild accomplished this through a 'subsistence policy' and through tra- 


ditionalism. In so far as guild regulation of the economy gained effective- 
ness, its practical results are well known. 

The sects, on the other hand, united men through the selection and 
the breeding of ethically qualified fellow believers. Their membership 
was not based upon apprenticeship or upon the family relations of tech- 
nically qualified members of an occupation. The sect controlled and 
regulated the members' conduct exclusively in the sense of formal 
righteousness and methodical asceticism. It was devoid of the purpose 
of a material subsistence policy which handicapped an expansion of the 
rational striving for profit. The capitalist success of a guild member 
undermined the spirit of the guild — ^as happened in England and France 
— and hence capitalist success was shunned. But the capitalist success of 
a sect brother, if legally attained, was proof of his worth and of his state 
of grace, and it raised the prestige and the propaganda chances of the 
sect. Such success was therefore welcome, as the several statements quoted 
above show. The organization of free labor in guilds, in their Occidental 
medieval form, has certainly — very much against their intention — not 
only been a handicap but also a precondition for the capitalist organiza- 
tion of labor, which was, perhaps, indispensable.^^ But the guild, of 
course, could not give birth to the modern bourgeois capitalist ethos. 
Only the methodical way of life of the ascetic sects could legitimate and 
put a halo around the economic 'individualist' impulses of the modern 
capitalist ethos. 

A.iii. Xveligious Jbvejections ol tlie VV orid ana 
J.neir J-)irections 

In strongest contrast to the case of China, Indian religiosity, which we 
are about to consider, is the cradle of those religious ethics which have 
abnegated the world, theoretically, practically, and to the greatest extent. 
It is also in India that the 'technique' which corresponds to such abnega- 
tion has been most highly developed. Monkhood, as well as the typical 
ascetic and contemplative manipulations, were not only first but also 
most consistently developed in India. And it was perhaps from India 
that this rationalization set out on its historical way throughout the 
world at large. 

i: Motives for the REjEcrrioN of the World: the Meaning of Their 
Rational Construction 

Before turning to this religiosity it may be expedient to clarify briefly, 
in a schematic and theoretical way, the motives from which religious f* 
ethics of world abnegation have originated, and the directions they have ' 
taken. In this way we may clarify their possible 'meaning.' 

The constructed scheme, of course, only serves the purpose of offering 
an ideal typical means of orientation. It does not teach a philosophy of its 
own. The theoretically constructed types of conflicting 'life orders' are 
merely intended to show that at certain points such and such internal 
conflicts are possible and 'adequate.' They are not intended to show that 
there is no standpoint from which the conflicts could not be held to be 
resolved in a higher synthesis. As will readily be seen, the individual 
spheres of value are prepared with a rational consistency which is rarely 
found in reality. But they can appear thus in reality and in historically 

From 'Zwischenbetrachtung,' Gesammelte Aufsaetze zw Rdigionssoziologie, vol. i, pp. 
436-73. This essay was published in November 1915 in the Aicliiv. 



important ways, and they have. Such constructions make it possible to 
determine the typological locus of a historical phenomenon. They en- 
able us to see if, in particular traits or in their total character, the 
phenomena approximate one of our constructions: to determine the 
degree of approximation of the historical phenomenon to the theoret- 
ically constructed type. To this extent, the construction is merely a tech- 
nical aid which facilitates a more lucid arrangement and terminology. 
Yet, under certain conditions, a construction might mean more. For the 
rationality, in the sense of logical or teleological 'consistency,' of an 
intellectual-theoretical or practical-ethical attitude has and always has had 
power over man, however limited and unstable this power is and always 
has been in the face of other forces of historical life. 

Religious interpretations of the world and ethics of religions created 
by intellectuals and meant to be rational have been strongly exposed to 
the imperative of consistency. The effect of the ratio, especially of a 
teleological deduction of practical postulates, is in some way, and often 
very strongly, noticeable among all religious ethics. This holds however 
little the religious interpretations of the world in the individual case 
have complied with the demand for consistency, and however much 
they might integrate points of view into their ethical postulates which 
could not be rationally deduced. Thus, for substantive reasons, we may 
hope to facilitate the presentation of an otherwise immensely multifarious 
subject matter by expediently constructed rational types. To do this we 
must prepare and emphasize the internally most 'consistent' forms of 
practical conduct that can be deduced from fixed and given presuppo- 

Above all, such an essay in the sociology of religion necessarily aims 
at contributing to the typology and sociology of rationalism. This essay 
therefore proceeds from the most rational forms reality can assume; it 
attempts to find out how far certain rational conclusions, which can be 
established theoretically, have been drawn in reality. And perhaps we 
will find out why not. 

2: Typology of Asceticism and of Mysticism 

The great importance of the conception of the supra-mundane God 
and Creator for religious ethics has been touched upon.* This conception 
has been especially important for the active and asceticist direction of the 

Cf. chapter xi. 

V i 


quest for salvation. It has not been so important for the contemplative 
and mystical quest, which has an internal affinity with the depersonali- 
zation and immanence of the divine power. However, this intimate con- 
nection, which E. Troeltsch has repeatedly and rightly stressed, between 
the conception of a supra-mundane God and active asceticism is not 
absolute; the supra-mundane God has not, as such, determined the direc- 
tion of Occidental asceticism, as will be seen from the following reflec- 
tions. The Christian Trinity, with its incarnate Savior and the saints, 
represented a conception of God which fundamentally was rather less 
supra-mundane than was the God of Jewry, especially of later Jewry, or 
the Allah of Islamism. 

Jewry developed mysticism, but it developed hardly any asceticism of 
the Occidental type. And early Islamism directly repudiated asceticism. 
The peculiarity of Dervish religiosity stemmed from quite different 
sources than from the relation to a supra-mundane God and Creator. 
It stemmed from mystic, ecstatic sources and in its inner essence it was 
remote from Occidental asceticism. Important though it was, the con- 
ception of a supra-mundane God, in spite of its affinity to emissary 
prophecy and active asceticism, obviously did not operate alone but 
always in conjunction with other circumstances. The nature of religious 
promises and the paths of salvation which they determined were para- 
mount among these circumstances. This matter has to be discussed in 
connection with particular cases. 

We have had repeatedly to use the terms 'asceticism' and 'mysticism' 
as polar concepts. In order to elucidate this terminology we shall here 
further differentiate these terms. 

In our introductory comments * we contrasted, as abnegations of the 
world, the active asceticism that is a God-willed action of the devout who 
are God's tools, and, on the other hand, the contemplative possession of i 
the holy, as found in mysticism. Mysticism intends a state of 'possession,' 
not action, and the individual is not a tool but a 'vessel' of the divine. 
Action in the world must thus appear as endangering the absolutely 
irrational and other-worldly religious state. Active asceticism operates 
within the world; rationally active asceticism, in mastering the world, 
seeks to tame what is creatural and wicked through work in a worldly 
'vocation' (inner- worldly asceticism). Such asceticism contrasts radically 
with mysticism, if the latter draws the full conclusion of fleeing from the 
world (contemplative flight from the world). 

• C£. chapter xi. 


The contrast is tempered, however, if active asceticism confines itselt 
to keeping down and to overcoming creatural wickedness in the actor's 
own nature. For then it enhances the concentration on the firmly estab- 
lished God-willed and active redemptory accomplishments to the point 
of avoiding any action in the orders of the world (asceticist flight from 
the world). Thereby active asceticism in external bearing comes close to 
contemplative flight from the world. 

The contrast between asceticism and mysticism is also tempered if the 
contemplative mystic does not draw the conclusion that he should flee 
from the world, but, like the inner-worldly asceticist, remain in the orders 
of the world (inner- worldly mysticism). 

In both cases the contrast can actually disappear in practice and some 
combination of both forms of the quest for salvation may occur. But 
the contrast may continue to exist even under the veil of external simi- 
larity. For the true mystic the principle continues to hold : the creature 
must be silent so that God may speak. He 'is' in the world avA externally 
'accommodates' to its orders, but only in order to gain a certainty of 
his state of grace in opposition to the world by resisting the temptation 
to take the ways of the world seriously. As we can see with Lao-tse, the 
typical attitude of the mystic is one of a specifically broken humility, a 
minimization of action, a sort of religious incognito existence in the 
world. He proves himself against the world, against his action in the 
world. Inner-worldly asceticism, on the contrary, proves itself through 
action. To the inner-worldly asceticist the conduct of the mystic is an 
indolent enjoyment of self; to the mystic the conduct of the (inner- 
worldly active) asceticist is an entanglement in the godless ways of the 
world combined with complacent self-righteousness. With that 'blissful 
bigotry,' usually ascribed to the typical Puritan, inner-worldly asceticism 
executes the positive and divine resolutions whose ultimate meaning re- 
mains concealed. Asceticism executes these resolutions as given in the 
God-ordained rational orders of the creatural. To the mystic, on the 
contrary, what matters for his salvation is only the grasping of the ulti- 
mate and completely irrational meaning through mystic experience. I'he 
forms in which both ways of conduct flee from the world can be dis- 
tinguished by similar confrontations. But we reserve the discussion of 
these for monographic presentation. 

religious rejections of the world and their directions 327 

3: Directions of the Abnegation of the World 

We shall now consider in detail the tensions existing between religion 
and the world. We shall proceed from the reflections of the introduc- 
tion,* but we shall now give them a somewhat different turn. 

We have said that these modes of behavior, once developed into a 
methodical way of life, formed the nucleus of asceticism as well as of 
mysticism, and that they originally grew out of magical presuppositions. 
Magical practices were engaged in, either for the sake of awakening 
charismatic qualities or for the sake of preventing evil charms. The first 
case has, of course, been more important for historical developments. 
For even at the threshold of its appearance, asceticism showed its Janus- 
face: on the one hand, abnegation of the world, and on the other, mas- 
tery of the world by virtue of the magical powers obtained by abnegation. 

The magician has been the historical precursor of the prophet, of the 
exemplary as well as of the emissary prophet and savior. As a rule the 
prophet and the savior have legitimized themselves through the posses- 
sion of a magical charisma. With them, however, this has been merely 
a means of securing recognition and followers, for the exemplary signifi- 
cance, the mission, or the savior quality of their personalities. For the 
substance of the prophecy or of the savior's commandment is to direct 
a way of life to the pursuit of a sacred value. Thus understood, the 
prophecy or commandment means, at least relatively, to systematize and 
rationalize the way of life, either in particular points or totally. The 
latter has been the rule with all true 'religions of salvation,' that is, with 
all religions that hold out deliverance from suffering to their adherents. 
This is more likely to be the case the more sublimated, the more inward, 
and the more principled the essence of suffering is conceived. For then it 
is important to put the follower into a permanent state which makes him 
inwardly safe against suffering. Formulated abstractly, the rational aim 
of redemption religion has been to secure for the saved a holy state, and 
thereby a habitude that assures salvation. This takes the place of an 
acute and extraordinary, and thus a holy, state which is transitorily at- 
tained by means of orgies, asceticism, or contemplation. 

Now if a religious community emerges in the wake of a prophecy or 
of the propaganda of a savior, the control of regular conduct first falls 
into the hands of the charismatically qualified successors, pupils, disci- 

* Cf. chapter xi. 


pies of the prophet or of the savior. Later, under certain very regularly 
recurrent conditions, which we shall not deal with here, this task falls 
into the hands of a priestly, hereditary, or official hierocracy. Yet, as a 
rule, the prophet or the savior personally has stood in opposition to the 
traditional hierocratic powers of magicians or of priests. He has set his 
personal charisma against their dignity consecrated by tradition in order 
to break their power or force them to his service. 

In the aforementioned discussion, we have taken for granted and 
presupposed that a large and, for the historical development, an especially 
important fraction of all cases of prophetic and redemptory religions 
have lived not only in an acute but in a permanent state of tension in 
relation to the world and its orders. This goes without saying, according 
to the terminology used here. The more the religions have been true 
religions of salvation, the greater has this tension been. This follows from 
the meaning of salvation and from the substance of the prophetic teach- 
ings as soon as these develop into an ethic. The tension has also been 
the greater, the more rational in principle the ethic has been, and the 
more it has been oriented to inward sacred values as means of salvation. 
In common language, this means that the tension has been the greater 
the more religion has beefl sublimated from ritualism and towards 'reli- 
gious absolutism.' Indeed, the further the rationalization and sublimation 
of the external and internal possession of — in the widest sense — 'things 
worldly' has progressed, the stronger has the tension on the part of 
religion become. For the rationalization and the conscious sublimation 
of man's relations to the various spheres of values, external and internal, 
as well as religious and secular, have then pressed towards making con- 
scious the internal and lawful autonomy of the individual spheres; 
thereby letting them drift into those tensions which remain hidden to the 
originally naive relation with the external world. This results quite gen- 
erally from the development of inner- and other-worldly values towards 
rationality, towards conscious endeavor, and towards sublimation by 
\nowledge. This consequence is very important for the history of reli- 
gion. In order to elucidate the typical phenomena which recur in con- 
nection with greatly varying religious ethics, we shall consider a series 
of these values. 

Wherever prophecies of salvation have created religious communities, 
the first power with which they have come into conflict has been the 



natural sib. The sib has had to fear devaluation by the prophecy. Those 
who cannot be hostile to members of the household, to father and to 
mother, cannot be disciples of Jesus. 'I came not to send peace, but a 
sword' (Matthew x, 34) was said in this connection, and, it should be 
noted, solely in this connection. The preponderant majority of all reli- 
gions have, of course, regulated the inner-worldly bonds of piety. Yet 
the more comprehensive and the more inward the aim of salvation has 
been, the more it has been taken for granted that the faithful should ulti- 
mately stand closer to the savior, the prophet, the priest, the father con- 
fessor, the brother in the faith than to natural relations and to the 
matrimonial community. 

Prophecy has created a new social community, particularly where it 
became a soteriological religion of congregations. Thereby the relation- 
ships of the sib and of matrimony have been, at least relatively, devalued. 
The magical ties and exclusiveness of the sibs have been shattered, and 
within the new community the prophetic religion has developed a re- 
ligious ethic of brotherliness. This ethic has simply taken over the orig- 
inal principles of social and ethical conduct which the 'association of 
neighbors' had offered, whether it was the community of villagers, mem- 
bers of the sib, the guild, or of partners in seafaring, hunting, and war- 
ring expeditions. These communities have known two elemental princi- 
ples: first, the dualism of in-group and out-group morality; second, for 
in-group morality, simple reciprocity: 'As you do unto me I shall do 
unto you.' From these principles the following have resulted for eco- 
nomic life: For in-group morality the principled obligation to give 
brotherly support in distress has existed. The wealthy and the noble 
were obliged to loan, free of charge, goods for the use of the property- 
less, to give credit free of interest, and to extend liberal hospitality and 
support. 1 Men were obliged to render services upon the request of their 
neighbors, and likewise, on the lord's estate, without compensation other 
than mere sustenance. All this followed the principle: your want of today 
may be mine of tomorrow. This principle was not, of course, rationally 
weighed, but it played its part in sentiment. Accordingly, higgling in 
exchange and loan situations, as well as permanent enslavement result- 
ing, for instance, from debts, were confined to out-group morality and 
applied only to outsiders. 

The religiosity of the congregation transferred this ancient economic 
ethic of neighborliness to the relations among brethren of the faith. 
What had previously been the obligations of the noble and the wealthy 
became the fundamental imperatives of all ethically rationalized religions 


of the world: to aid widows and orphans in distress, to care for the sick 
and impoverished brother of the faith, and to give alms. The giving of 
alms was especially required of the rich, for the holy minstrels and 
magicians as well as the ascetics were economically dependent upon the 

The principle that constituted the communal relations among the 
salvation prophecies was the suffering common to all believers. And this 
was the case whether the suffering actually existed or was a constant 
threat, whether it was external or internal. The more imperatives that 
issued from the ethic of reciprocity among neighbors were raised, the 
more rational the conception of salvation became, and the more it was 
sublimated into an ethic of absolute ends. Externally, such commands 
rose to a communism of loving brethren; internally they rose to the 
attitude of caritas, love for the sufferer per se, for one's neighbor, for man, 
and finally for the enemy. The barrier to the bond of faith and the 
existence of hatred in the face of a world conceived to be the locus of 
undeserved suffering seem to have resulted from the same imperfections 
and depravities of empirical reality that originally caused the suffering. 
Above all, the peculiar euphoria of all types of sublimated religious 
ecstasy operated psychologically in the same general direction. From 
being 'moved' and edified to feeling direct communion with God, ecsta- 
sies have always inclined men towards the flowing out into an object- 
less acosmism of love. In religions of salvation, the profound and quiet 
bliss of all heroes of acosmic benevolence has always been fused with 
a charitable realization of the natural imperfections of all human doings, 
including one's own. The psychological tone as well as the rational, 
ethical interpretation of this inner attitude can vary widely. But its 
ethical demand has always lain in the direction of a universalist brother- 
hood, which goes beyond all barriers of societal associations, often in- 
cluding that of one's own faith. 

The religion of brotherliness has always clashed with the orders and 
values of this world, and the more consistently its demands have been 
carried through, the sharper the clash has been. The split has usually 
become wider the more the values of the world have been rationalized 
and sublimated in terms of their own laws. And that is what matters 

religious rejections of the world and their directions 33i 

4: The Economic Sphere 

The tension between brotherly reHgion and the world has been most y 
obvious in the economic sphere. 

All the primeval magical or mystagogic ways of influencing spirits 
and deities have pursued special interests. They have striven for wealth, 
as well as long life, health, honor, progeny and, possibly, the improve- 
ment of one's fate in the hereafter. The Eleusian mysteries promised all 
this, just as did the Phoenician and Vedic religions, the Chinese folk- 
religion, ancient Judaism, and ancient Islam; and it was the promise 
held out to the pious Hindu and Buddhist laymen. The sublimated 
religions of salvation, however, have been increasingly tense in their 
relationships with rationalized economies. 

A rational economy is a functional organization oriented to money- 
prices which originate in the interest-struggles of men in the market. 
Calculation is not possible without estimation in money prices and hence 
without market struggles. Money is the most abstract and 'impersonal' 
element that exists in human life. The more the world of the modern 
capitalist economy follows its own immanent laws, the less accessible it 
is to any imaginable relationship with a religious ethic of brotherliness. 
The more rational, and thus impersonal, capitalism becomes, the more 
is this the case. In the past it was possible to regulate ethically the per- 
sonal relations between master and slave precisely because they were 
personal relations. But it is not possible to regulate — at least not in the 
same sense or with the same success — the relations between the shifting 
holders of mortgages and the shifting debtors of the banks that issue 
these mortgages: for in this case, no personal bonds of any sort exist. 
If one nevertheless tried to do so, the results would be the same as those 
we have come to know from China, namely, stifling formal rationality. 
For in China, formal rationality and substantive rationality were in con- 

As we have seen, the religions of salvation have had a tendency to 
depersonalize and objectify love in the unique sense of acosmism. Yet 
these same religions have watched with profound suspicion the deploy- 
ment of economic forces which, in a different sense, have likewise been 
impersonal, and because of this they have been specifically oppsed to 

The Catholic Deo placere non potest has always been the character- 


istic attitude of salvation religions towards the profit economy; with all 
rational methods of salvation the warnings against attachment to money 
and goods have pushed to the height of tabooing goods and money. The 
dependence of religious communities themselves, and of their propa- 
ganda and maintenance, upon economic means, and their accommoda- 
tion to cultural needs and the everyday interests of the masses, have 
compelled them to enter compromises of which the history of the inter- 
diction of interests is but one example. Yet, ultimately no genuine religion 
of salvation has overcome the tension between their religiosity and a 
rational economy. 

Externally, the ethic of religious virtuosos has touched this tense rela- 
tion in the most radical fashion: by rejecting the possession of economic 
goods. The ascetic monk has fled from the world by denying himself 
individual property; his existence has rested entirely upon his own work; 
and, above all, his needs have been correspondingly restricted to what 
was absolutely indispensable. The paradox of all rational asceticism, 
which in an identical manner has made monks in all ages stumble, is 
that rational asceticism itself has created the very wealth it rejected. 
Temples and monasteries have everywhere become the very loci of 
rational economies. 

Contemplative seclusion as a principle has only been able to establish 
the rule that the propertyless monk must enjoy only what nature and 
men voluntarily offer: berries, roots, and free alms. Labor was some- 
thing which distracted the monk from concentration upon the contem- 
plated value of salvation. Yet even contemplative seclusion has made its 
compromises by establishing districts for begging, as in India. 

There have been only two consistent avenues for escaping the tension 
between religion and the economic world in a principled and inward 
manner: First, the paradox of the Puritan ethic of 'vocation.' As a re- 
ligion of virtuosos, Puritanism renounced the universalism of love, and 
rationally routinized all work in this world into serving God's will and 
testing one's state of grace. God's will in its ultimate meaning was quite 
incomprehensible, yet it was the only positive will that could be known. 
In this respect, Puritanism accepted the routinization of the economic 
cosmos, which, with the whole world, it devalued as creatural and de- 
praved. This state of affairs appeared as God-willed, and as material 
and given for fulfilling one's duty. In the last resort, this meant in 
principle to renounce salvation as a goal attainable by man, that is, by 
everybody. It meant to renounce salvation in favor of the groundless 


and always only particularized grace. In truth, this standpoint of un- 
brotherliness was no longer a genuine 'religion of salvation.' A genuine 
religion of salvation can exaggerate brotherliness to the height of the 
mystic's acosmism of love. 

Mysticism is the other consistent avenue by which the tension be- 
tween economics and religion has been escaped. This way is repre- 
sented quite purely in the mystic's 'benevolence,' which does not at all 
enquire into the man to whom and for whom it sacrifices. Ultimately, 
mysticism is not interested in his person. Once and for all, the benevolent 
mystic gives his shirt when he is asked for his coat, by anybody who 
accidentally happens to come his way — and merely because he happens to 
come his way. Mysticism is a unique escape from this world in the form 
of an objectless devotion to anybody, not for man's sake but purely for 
devotion's sake, or, in Baudelaire's words, for the sake of 'the soul's 
sacred prostitution.' 

5: The Political Sphere 

The consistent brotherly ethic of salvation reUgions has come into an 
equally sharp tension with the political orders of the world. This prob- 
lem did not exist for magic religiosity or for the religion of functional 
deities. The ancient god of war as well as the god who guaranteed the 
legal order were functional deities who protected the undoubted values 
of everyday routine. The gods of locality, tribe, and polity were only 
concerned with the interests of their respective associations. They had 
to fight other gods like themselves, just as their communities fought, 
and they had to prove their divine powers in this very struggle. 

The problem only arose when these barriers of locality, tribe, and 
polity were shattered by universalist religions, by a religion with a 
unified God of the entire world. And the problem arose in full strength 
only when this God was a God of 'love.' The problem of tensions with 
the political order emerged for redemption religions out of the basic 
demand for brotherliness. And in politics, as in economics, the more 
rational the political order became the sharper the problems of these 
tensions became. 

The bureaucratic state apparatus, and the rational homo politicus 
integrated into the state, manage affairs, including the punishment of 
evil, when they discharge business in the most ideal sense, according to 
the rational rules of the state order. In this, the political man acts just 


like the economic man, in a matter-of-fact manner 'without regard to 
the person,' sine ira et studio, without hate and therefore without love. 
By virtue of its depersonahzation, the bureaucratic state, in important 
points, is less accessible to substantive moralization than were the patri- 
archal orders of the past, however many appearances may point to the 
contrary. The patriarchal orders of the past were based upon personal 
obligations of piety, and the patriarchal rulers considered the merit of 
the concrete, single case precisely with 'regard to the person.' In the 
final analysis, in spite of all 'social welfare poHcies,' the whole course of 
the state's inner political functions, of justice and administration, is 
repeatedly and unavoidably regulated by the objective pragmatism of 
'reasons of state.' The state's absolute end is to safeguard (or to change) 
the external and internal distribution of power; ultimately, this end 
must seem meaningless to any universalist religion of salvation. This 
fact has held and still holds, even more :o, for foreign policy. It is abso- 
lutely essential for every political association to appeal to the naked 
violence of coercive means in the face of outsiders as well as in the face 
of internal enemies. It is only this very appeal to violence that consti- 
tutes a political association in our terminology. The state is an association 
that claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence, and cannot 
be defined in any other manner. 

The Sermon on the Mount says 'resist no evil.' In opposition, the 
state asserts: 'You shall help right to triumph by the use of force, other- 
wise you too may be responsible for injustice.' Where this factor is absent, 
the 'state' is also absent; the 'anarchism' of the pacifist will have then 
come to life. According to the inescapable pragmatism of all action, 
however, force and the threat of force unavoidably breed more force. 
'Reasons of state' thus follow their own external and internal laws. The 
very success of force, or of the threat of force, depends ultimately upon 
power relations and not on ethical 'right,' even were one to believe it 
possible to discover objective criteria for such 'right.' 

In contrast to naive, primitive heroism, it is typical of the rational 
state systems for groups or rulers to line up for violent conflict, all quite 
sincerely believing themselves to be 'in the right.' To any consistent 
religious rationalization, this must seem only an aping of ethics. More- 
over, to draw the Lord's name into such violent political conflict must 
be viewed as a taking of His name in vain. In the face of this, the 
cleaner and only honest way may appear to be the complete elimination 
of ethics from political reasoning. The more matter-of-fact and calcu- 


lating politics is, and the freer of passionate feelings, of wrath, and of 
love it becomes, the more it must appear to an ethic of brotherliness to 
be estranged from brotherliness. 

The mutual strangeness of religion and politics, when they are both 
completely rationalized, is all the more the case because, in contrast to 
economics, politics may come into direct competition with religious 
ethics at decisive points. As the consummated threat of violence among 
modern polities, war creates a pathos and a sentiment of community. 
War thereby makes for an unconditionally devoted and sacrificial com- 
munity among the combatants and releases an active mass compassion 
and love for those who are in need. And, as a mass phenomenon, these 
feelings break down all the naturally given barriers of association. In 
general, religions can show comparable achievements only in heroic com- 
munities professing an ethic of brotherliness. 

Moreover, war does something to the warrior which, in its concrete 
meaning, is unique: it makes him experience a consecrated meaning of 
death which is characteristic only of death in war. The community of 
the army standing in the field today feels itself — as in the times of the 
war lords 'following' — to be a community unto death, and the great- 
est of its kind. Death on the field of battle differs from death that is 
only man's common lot. Since death is a fate that comes to everyone, 
nobody can ever say why it comes precisely to him and why it comes 
just when it does. As the values of culture increasingly unfold and are 
sublimated to immeasurable heights, such ordinary death marks an 
end where only a beginning seems to make sense. Death on the field of 
battle differs from this merely unavoidable dying in that in war, and 
in this massiveness only in war, the individual can believe that he knows 
he is dying 'for' somediing. The why and the wherefore of his facing 
death can, as a rule, be so indubitable to him that the problem of the 
'meaning' of deadi does not even occur to him. At least there may be 
no presuppositions for the emergence of the problem in its universal 
significance, which is the form in which religions of salvation are im- 
pelled to be concerned with the meaning of death. Only those who 
perish 'in their callings' are in the same situation as the soldier who 
faces death on the battlefield. 

This location of death within a series of meaningful and consecrated 
events ultimately lies at the base of all endeavors to support the autono- 
mous dignity of the polity resting on force. Yet the way in which death 
can be conceived as meaningful in such endeavors points in directions 


that differ radically from the direction in which the theodicy of death 
in a religion of brotherliness may point. The brotherliness of a group 
of men bound together in war must appear devalued in such brotherly 
religions. It must be seen as a mere reflection of the technically sophis- 
ticated brutality of the struggle. And the inner-worldly consecration of 
death in war must appear as a glorification of fratricide. The very ex- 
traordinary quality of brotherliness of war, and of death in war, is 
shared with sacred charisma and the experience of the communion with 
God, and this fact raises the competition between the brotherliness of 
religion and of the warrior community to its extreme height. As in 
economics, the only two consistent solutions of this tension are those of 
puritanism and of mysticism. 

Puritanism, with its particularism of grace and vocational asceticism, 
believes in the fixed and revealed commandments of a God who is 
otherwise quite incomprehensible. It interprets God's will to mean that 
these commandments should be imposed upon the creatural world by 
the means of this world, namely, violence — for the world is subject to 
violence and ethical barbarism. And this means at least barriers which 
resist the obligation of brotherliness in the interest of God's 'cause.' 

On the other hand, there is the solution of the mystic's radical anti- 
political attitude, his quest for redemption with its acosmic benevolence 
and brotherliness. With its 'resist no evil' and with its maxim 'then turn 
the other cheek,' mysticism is necessarily vulgar and lacking in dignity in 
the eyes of every self-assured worldly ethic of heroism. It withdraws from 
the pragma of violence which no political action can escape. 

All other solutions to the tensions of politics and religion are full of 
compromises or of presuppositions which must necessarily appear dis- 
honest or inacceptable to the genuine ethic of brotherliness. Some of 
these solutions are nevertheless interesting in principle and as types. 

Every organization of salvation by a compulsory and universaUst 
institution of grace feels responsible before God for the souls of every- 
one, or at least of all the men entrusted to it. Such an institution will 
therefore feel entitled, and in duty bound, to oppose with ruthless force 
any danger through misguidance in faith. It feels bound to promote the 
diffusion of its saving means of grace. 

When salvation aristocracies are charged by the command of their 
God to tame the world of sin, for His glory, they give birth to the 'cru- 
sader.' Such was the case in Calvinism and, in a different form, in 
Islamism. At the same time, however, salvation aristocracies separate 


'holy' or 'just' wars from other, purely secular, and therefore profoundly 
devalued, wars. The just war is engaged in for the sake of executing 
God's commandment, or for the sake of faith, which in some sense 
always means a war of religion. Therefore, salvation aristocracies re- 
ject the compulsion to participate in those wars of the political authori- 
ties which are not clearly established as holy wars corresponding to 
God's will, that is, wars not affirmed by one's own conscience. The vic- 
torious army of Cromwell's Saints acted in this way when it took a 
stand against compulsory military service. Salvation aristocracies prefer 
mercenary armies to compulsory war service. In case men violate God's 
will, especially on behalf of the faith, the faithful draw conclusions in 
favor of an active religious revolution, by virtue of the sentence that 
one should obey God rather than man. 

Churchly Lutheranism, for instance, has taken the very opposite stand. 
It has rejected the crusade and the right to active resistance against any 
secular coercion in matters of faith; it has considered such coercion an 
arbitrary wilfulness, which entangles salvation in the pragmatism of 
violence. In this field Lutheranism has known only passive resistance. It 
has, however, accepted obedience to secular authority as unobjectionable, 
even when this authority has given the order for war, because the re- 
sponsibility for war is on the secular authority and not on the individual 
and because the ethical autonomy of the secular authority, in contrast to 
the inwardly universalist (Catholic) institution of grace, was recognized. 
The insertion of mystic religiosity peculiar to Luther's personal Christian- 
ity stopped short of drawing the full conclusions in this matter. 

The religious virtuosos' genuinely mystic and charismatic search for 
salvation has naturally and everywhere been apolitical or anti-political 
in nature. Such quests for salvation have readily recognized the auton- 
omy of the temporal order, but they have done so only in order to infer 
consistently its radically diabolic character, or at least to take that stand- 
point of absolute indifference in the face of the world which has been 
expressed in the sentence: 'Render unto Caesar the things which are 
Caesar's' (for what is the relevance of these things for salvation?). 

The widely varying empirical stands which historical religions have 
taken in the face of political action have been determined by the entan- 
glement of religious organizations in power interests and in struggles 
for power, by the always unavoidable collapse of even the highest states 
of tension with the world in favor of compromises and relativities, by 
the usefulness and the use of religious organizations for the political 


taming of the masses and, especially, by the need of the powers-that-be 
for the religious consecration of their legitimacy. As we may see from 
history, almost all the platforms of religious organizations have been 
religiously relative so far as sacred values, ethical rationality, and lawful 
autonomy are concerned. In practice, the most important type of these 
relative forms has been the 'organic' social ethics. This type has been 
diffused in many forms and its conception of vocational work has been, 
in principle, the most important contrast to the idea of 'calling,' as foimd 
in inner-worldly asceticism. 

Organic social ethics, where religiously sub-structured, stands on the 
soil of 'brotherUness,' but, in contrast to mystic and acosmic love, is 
dominated by a cosmic, rational demand for brotherhness. Its point of 
departure is the experience of the inequality of religious charisma. The 
very fact that the holy should be accessible only to some and not to all 
is unbearable to organic social ethics. It therefore attempts to synthesize 
this inequality of charismatic qualifications with secular stratification by 
status, into a cosmos of God-ordained services which are specialized in 
function. Certain tasks are given to every individual and every group 
according to their personal charisma and their social and economic posi- 
tion as determined by fate. As a rule, these tasks stand in the service of 
the realization of a condition which, in spite of its compromise nature, 
is pleasing to God. This condition is interpreted as being at the same time 
utilitarian, social, and providential. In the face of the wickedness of the 
world, such a condition facilitates at least a relative taming of sin and of 
suffering; the preservation and salvation of as many souls as possible for 
the kingdom of God is thereby facilitated. We shall soon learn of a 
theodicy of far greater pathos, which the Indian doctrine of Kharma has 
imparted to the organic doctrine of society from the standpoint of re- 
demptory pragmatism oriented solely to the interests of the individual. 
Without this very special linkage, every organic social ethic unavoidably 
represents an accommodation to the interests of the privileged strata of 
this world. At least that is the view of the radical, mystical ethic of reli- 
gious brotherhness. From the standpoint of inner-worldly asceticism, the 
organic ethic lacks the inward drive for an ethical and thorough ration- 
alization of individual life. In such matters, it has no premium for the 
rational and mediodical patterning of personal life in the interest of the 
individual's own salvation. 

The organic pragmatism of salvation must consider the redemptory 
aristocracy of inner-worldly asceticism, with its rational depersonalization 


of life orders, as the hardest form of lovelessness and lack of brotherli- 
ness. It must consider the redemptory pragmatism of mysticism as a 
sublimated and, in truth, unbrotherly indulgence of the mystic's own 
charisma. The mystic's unmethodical and planless acosmism of love is 
viewed as a mere selfish means in the search for the mystic's own sal- 
vation. Both inner-worldly asceticism and mysticism ultimately condemn 
the social world to absolute meaninglessness, or at least they hold that 
God's aims concerning the social world are utterly incomprehensible. 
The rationalism of religious and organic doctrines of society cannot 
stand up under this idea; for it seeks to comprehend the world as an at 
least relatively rational cosmos in spite of all its wickedness; the world 
is held to bear at least traces of the divine plan of salvation. For the 
absolute charisma of virtuoso religiosity, this relativization is indeed ob- 
jectionable and estranged from the holy. 

As economic and rational political actions follow laws of their own, 
so every other rational action within the world remains inescapably 
bound to worldly conditions. These conditions are remote from brother- 
liness and must serve as means or as ends of rational action. \Hence all 
rational action somehow comes to stand in tension with the ethic of 
brotherliness, and carries within itself a profound tension. For there 
seems to exist no means of deciding even the very first question: Where, 
in the individual case, can the ethical value of an act be determined? 
In terms of success, or in terms of some intrinsic value of the act per se? 
The question is whether and to what extent the responsibility of the 
actor for the results sanctifies the means, or whether the value of the 
actor's intention justifies him in rejecting the responsibility for the out- 
come, whether to pass on the results of the act to God or to the wicked- 
ness and foolishness of the world which are permitted by God. The 
absolutist sublimation of religious ethic will incline men towards the 
latter alternative: 'The Christian does right and leaves success to God.' 
In this, however, the actor's own conduct when it is really consistent, 
and not the lawful autonomy of the world, is condemned as irrational 
in its effects.* In the face of this, a sublimated and thoroughgoing search 
for salvation may lead to an acosmism increasing to the pint where it 
rejects purposive-rational action per se, and hence, all action in terms 
of means-ends relations, for it considers them tied to worldly things and 
thus estranged from God. We shall see how this has occurred with 

♦Theoretically this is most consistently carried through in the Bhagavad-Gita, as we 
shall see. 


varying consistency, from the Biblical parable of the lilies in the field 
to the more principled formulations, for instance, of Buddhism. 

The organic ethic of society is everywhere an eminently conservative 
power and hostile to revolution. Under certain conditions, however, revo- 
lutionary consequences may follow from a genuine virtuoso religiosity. 
Naturally, this occurs only when the pragmatism of force, calling forth 
more force and leading merely to changes in personnel, or at best to 
changes in methods of ruling by force, is not recognized as a permanent 
quahty of the creaturely. According to the coloration of the virtuoso 
religion, its revolutionary turn may in principle assume two forms. One 
form springs from inner-worldly asceticism, wherever this asceticism is 
capable of opposing an absolute and divine 'natural law' to the crea- 
turally, wicked, and empirical orders of the world. It then becomes a 
religious duty to realize this divine natural law, according to the sen- 
tence that one must obey God rather t^han men, which in some sense 
holds for all rational religions. The genuine Puritan revolutions, whose 
counterparts can be found elsewhere, are typical. This attitude abso- 
lutely corresponds to the obligation to crusade. 

It is a different matter with the mystic. The psychological turn from 
possession of God to possession by God is always possible and with the 
mystic it is consummated. This is meaningful and possible when eschato- 
logical expectations of an immediate beginning and of the millennium 
of acosmic brotherliness are flaming up, hence, when the belief is dropped 
that an everlasting tension exists between the world and the irrational 
metaphysical realm of salvation. The mystic then turns into a savior and 
prophet. The commands, however, which he enunciates have no rational 
character. As products of his charisma, they are revelations of a concrete 
sort and the radical rejection of the world easily turns into radical 
anomism. The commands of the world do not hold for the man who is 
assured in his obsession with God: 'jiavta |.ioi eHeativ.' AH chiliasm, up 
to the revolution of the Anabaptists, rested somehow upon this sub- 
structure. For him who 'possesses God' and is thereby saved, the manner 
of action is without significance for salvation. We shall find that similar 
states hold in the case of the Indian djivanmukhti. 

6: The Esthetic Sphere 

The religious ethic of brotherliness stands in dynamic tension with 
any purposive-rational conduct that follows its own laws. In no less 


degree, this tension occurs between the rehgious ethic and 'this-worldly' 
Hfe-forces, whose character is essentially non-rational or basically anti- 
rational. Above all, there is tension between the ethic of religious brother- 
liness and the spheres of esthetic and erotic life. 

Magical religiosity stands in a most intimate relation to the esthetic 
sphere. Since its beginnings, religion has been an inexhaustible fountain 
of opportunities for artistic creation, on the one hand, and of stylizing 
through traditionalization, on the other. This is shown in a variety of 
objects and processes: in idols, icons, and other religious artifacts; in the 
stereotyping of magically proved forms, which is a first step in the over- 
coming of naturahsm by a fixation of 'style'; in music as a means of 
ecstasy, exorcism, or apotropaic magic; in sorcerers as holy singers and 
dancers; in magically proved and therefore magically stereotyped tone 
relations — the earliest preparatory stages in the development of tonal 
systems; in the magically proved dance-step as one of the sources of 
rhythm and as an ecstasy technique; in temples and churches as the 
largest of all buildings, with the architectural task becoming stereotyped 
(and thus style-forming) as a consequence of purposes which are estab- 
lished once for all, and with the structural forms becoming stereotyped 
through magical efficacy; in paraments and church implements of all 
kinds which have served as objects of applied art. All these processes and 
objects have been displayed in connection with the churches' and tem- 
ples' wealth flowing from religious zeal. 

For the religious ethic of brotherliness, just as for a priori ethical rigor- 
ism,^ art as a carrier of magical effects is not only devalued but even 
suspect. The sublimation of the religious ethic and the quest for salva- 
tion, on the one hand, and the evolution of the inherent logic of art, on 
the other, have tended to form an increasingly tense relation. All subli- 
mated religions of salvation have focused upon the meaning alone, not 
upon the form, of the things and actions relevant for salvation. Salvation 
reUgions have devalued form as contingent, as something creaturely and 
distracting from meaning. On the part of art, however, the naive relation 
to the religious ethic of brotherliness can remain unbroken or can be 
repeatedly restored as long and as often as the conscious interest of the 
recipient of art is naively attached to the content and not to the form as 
such. The relationship between a religious ethic and art will remain 
harmonious as far as art is concerned for so long as the creative artist 
experiences his work as resulting either from a charisma of 'ability' 
(originally magic) or from spontaneous play. 


The development of intellectualism and the rationaHzation of life 
change this situation. For under these conditions, art becomes a cosmos 
of more and more consciously grasped independent values which exist 
in their own right. Art takes over the function of a this-worldly salvation, 
no matter how this may be interpreted. It provides a salvation from the 
routines of everyday life, and especially from the increasing pressures of 
theoretical and practical rationalism. 

With this claim to a redemptory function, art begins to compete di- 
rectly with salvation religion. Every rational religious ethic must turn 
against this inner-worldly, irrational salvation. For in religion's eyes, such 
salvation is a realm of irresponsible indulgence and secret lovelessness. 
As a matter of fact, the refusal of modern men to assume responsibility 
for moral judgments tends to transform judgments of moral intent into 
judgments of taste ('in poor taste' instead of 'reprehensible'). The in- 
accessibility of appeal from esthetic judgments excludes discussion. This 
shift from the moral to the esthetic evaluation of conduct is a common 
characteristic of intellectualist epochs; it results partly from subjectivist 
needs and partly from the fear of appearing narrow-minded in a tradi- 
tionalist and Philistine way. 

The ethical norm and its 'universal validity' create a community, at 
least in so far as an individual might reject the act of another on moral 
grounds and yet still face it and participate in the common life. Knowing 
his own creaturely weakness, the individual places himself under the 
common norm. In contrast with this ethical attitude, the escape from 
the necessity of taking a stand on rational, ethical grounds by resorting 
to esthetic evaluations may very well be regarded by salvation religion 
as a very base form of unbrotherliness. To the creative artist, however, as 
well as to the esthetically excited and receptive mind, the ethical norm 
as such may easily appear as a coercion of their genuine creativeness and 
innermost selves. 

The most irrational form of religious behavior, the mystic experience, 
is in its innermost being not only alien but hostile to all form. Form is 
unfortunate and inexpressible to the mystic because he believes precisely 
in the experience of exploding all forms, and hopes by this to be ab- 
sorbed into the 'All-oneness' which lies beyond any kind of determina- 
tion and form. For him the indubitable psychological affinity of pro- 
foundly shaking experiences in art and religion can only be a symptom 
of the diabolical nature of art. Especially music, the most 'inward' of all 
the arts, can appear in its purest form of instrumental music as an irre- 



sponsible Ersatz for primary religious experience. The internal logic of 
instrumental music as a realm not living 'within' appears as a deceptive 
pretension to religious experience. The well-known stand of the Council 
of Trent may in part have stemmed from this sentiment. Art becomes 
an 'idolatry,' a competing power, and a deceptive bedazzlement; and 
the images and the allegory of religious subjects appear as blasphemy. 

In empirical, historical reality, this psychological affinity between art 
and religion has led to ever-renewed alliances, which have been quite 
significant for the evolution of art. The great majority of religions have 
in some manner entered such alliances. The more they wished to be 
universalist mass religions and were thus directed to emotional propa- 
ganda and mass appeals, the more systematic were their alliances with 
art. But all genuine virtuoso religions have remained very coy when 
confronting art, as a consequence of the inner structure of the contra- 
diction between religion and art. This holds true for virtuoso religiosity 
in its active asceticist bent as well as in its mystical turn. The more reli- 
gion has emphasized either the supra-worldliness of its God or the other- 
worldliness of salvation, the more harshly has art been refuted. 

7: The Erotic Sphere 

The brotherly ethic of salvation religion is in profound tension with 
the greatest irrational force of life: sexual love. The more sublimated 
sexuality is, and the more principled and relentlessly consistent the salva- 
tion ethic of brotherhood is, the sharper is the tension between sex and 

Originally the relation of sex and religion was very intimate. Sexual 
intercourse was very frequently part of magic orgiasticism or was an 
unintended result of orgiastic excitement. The foundation of the Skoptsy 
(Castrators) sect in Russia evolved from an attempt to do away with the 
sexual result of the orgiastic dance (radjeny) of the Chlyst, which was 
evaluated as sinful. Sacred harlotry has had nothing whatsoever to do 
with an alleged 'primitive promiscuity'; it has usually been a survival of 
magical orgiasticism in which every ecstasy was considered 'holy.' And 
profane heterosexual, as well as homosexual, prostitution is very ancient 
and often rather sophisticated. (The training of tribades occurs among 
so-called aborigines.) 

The transition from such prostitution to legally constituted marriage 
is full of all sorts of intermediary forms. Conceptions of marriage as an 


economic arrangement for providing security for the wife and legal 
inheritance for the child; as an institution which is important (because 
of the death sacrifices of the descendants) for destiny in the beyond; and 
as important for the begetting of children — these conceptions of mar- 
riage are pre-prophetic and universal. They therefore have had nothing 
to do with asceticism as such. And sexual life, per se, has had its ghosts 
and gods as has every other function. 

A certain tension between religion and sex came to the fore only with 
the temporary cultic chastity of priests. This rather ancient chastity may 
well have been determined by the fact that from the point of view of 
the strictly stereotyped ritual of the regulated community cult, sexuaUty 
was readily considered to be specifically dominated by demons. Further- 
more, it was no accident that subsequently the prophetic religions, as 
well as the priest-controlled life orders, have, almost without significant 
exception, regulated sexual intercourse in favor of marriage. The con- 
trast of all rational regulation of life with magical orgiasticism and all 
sorts of irrational frenzies is expressed in this fact. 

The tension of religion and sex has been augmented by evolutionary 
factors on both sides. On the side of sexuality the tension has led through 
sublimation into 'eroticism,' and therewith into a consciously cultivated, 
and hence, a non-routinized sphere. Sex has been non-routinized not 
solely or necessarily in the sense of being estranged from conventions, 
for eroticism is a contrast to the sober naturalism of the peasant. And it 
was precisely eroticism which the conventions of knighthood usually 
made the object of regulation. These conventions, however, characteris- 
tically regulated eroticism by veihng the natural and organic basis of 

The extraordinary quality of eroticism has consisted precisely in a 
gradual turning away from the naive naturalism of sex. The reason and 
significance of this evolution, however, involve the universal rationaliza- 
tion and intellectualization of culture. We wish to present, in a few 
sketches, the phases of this development. We shall proceed with exam- 
ples from the Occident. 

The total being of man has now been alienated from the organic cycle 
of peasant life; life has been increasingly enriched in cultural content, 
whether this content is evaluated as intellectually or otherwise supra- 
individual. All this has worked, through the estrangement of life-value 
from that which is merely naturally given, toward a further enhance- 
ment of the special position of eroticism. Eroticism was raised into the 


sphere of conscious enjoyment (in the most sublime sense of the term). 
Nevertheless, indeed because of diis elevation, eroticism appeared to be 
like a gate into the most irrational and thereby real kernel of life, as 
compared with the mechanisms of rationalization. The degree and the 
manner in which a value-emphasis was thus placed upon eroticism as 
such has varied enormously throughout history. 

To the unrestrained feelings of a warriordom, the possession of and 
the fight for women has ranked about equally with the fight for treas- 
ure and the conquest of power. At the time of prc-classic Hellenism, in 
the period of knighthood romance, an erotic disappointment could be 
considered by Archilochos as a significant experience of lasting relevance, 
and the capture of a woman could be considered the incomparable inci- 
dent of a heroic war. 

The tragedians knew sexual love as a genuine power of destiny, and 
their lore incorporated lingering echoes of the myths. On the whole, 
however, a woman, Sappho, remained unequalled by man in the capacity 
for erotic feeling. The classic Hellenic period, the period of the Hoplite 
army, conceived of erotic matters in a relatively and unusually sober 
manner. As all their self-revelations prove, these men were even more 
sober than the educated stratum of the Chinese. Yet it is not true that 
this period did not know the deadly earnestness of sexual love. Rather, 
the contrary was characteristic of Hellenic love. We should remind our- 
selves — despite Aspasia — of Pericles' speech and finally of the well-known 
statement of Demosthenes. 

To the exclusively masculine character of this epoch of 'democracy,' 
the treatment of erotic experience with women as 'life-fate' — to speak in 
our vocabulary — would have appeared as almost sophomoric and senti- 
mental. The 'comrade,' the boy, was the object demanded with all the 
ceremony of love, and this fact stood precisely in the center of Hellenic 
culture. Thus, with all its magnificence, Plato's eros is nevertheless a 
strongly tempered feeling. The beauty of Bacchian passion as such was 
not an official component of this relation. 

The possibility of problems and of tragedy of a principled character 
came about in the erotical sphere, at first, through certain demands for 
responsibility, which, in the Occident, stem from Christianity. However, 
the value-accentuation of the erotic sensation as such evolved primarily 
and before all else under the cultural conditioning of feudal notions of 
honor. This happened by a carrying over of the symbols of knightly 
vassalship into the erotically sublimated sexual relation. Eroticism was 


given a value-accent most frequently when, during the fusion of vassal- 
ship and erotic relations, there occurred a combination with crypto-erotic 
religiosity, or directly with asceticism as during the Middle Ages. The 
troubadour love of the Christian Middle Ages is known to have been an 
erotic service of vassals. It was not oriented towards girls, but exclusively 
towards the wives of other men; it involved (in theory!) abstentious 
love nights and a casuistic code of duties. Therewith began the 'proba- 
tion' of the man, not before his equals but in the face of the erotic 
interest of the 'lady.' 

The conception of the 'lady' was constituted solely and precisely by 
virtue of her judging function. The masculinity of Hellenism is in 
strict contrast to this relation of the vassal to the 'lady.' 

A further enhancement of the specifically sensational character of 
eroticism developed with the transition from the conventions of the 
Renaissance to the increasingly non-milirary intellectualism of salon cul- 
ture. Despite the great differences between the conventions of Antiquity 
and the Renaissance, the latter were essentially masculine and agonistic; 
in this respect, they were closely related to antiquity. This was due to the 
fact that by the time of the Cortegiano and of Shakespeare, the Renais- 
sance conventions had cast oflf the asceticism of Christian knighthood. 

Salon culture rested upon the conviction that inter-sexual conversation 
is valuable as a creative power. The overt or latent erotic sensation and 
the agonistic probation of the cavalier before the lady became an indis- 
pensable means of stimulating this conversation. Since the Lettres Portu- 
gaises, the actual love problems of women became a specific intellectual 
market value, and feminine love correspondence became 'Hterature.' 

The last accentuation of the erotical sphere occurred in terms of in- 
tellectualist cultures. It occurred where this sphere collided with the 
unavoidably ascetic trait of the vocational specialist type of man. Under 
this tension between the erotic sphere and rational everyday life, specifi- 
cally extramarital sexual life, which had been removed from everyday 
affairs, could appear as the only tie which still linked man with the 
natural fountain of all life. For man had now been completely emanci- 
pated from the cycle of the old, simple, and organic existence of the 

A tremendous value emphasis on the specific sensation of an inner- 
worldly salvation from rationalization thus resulted. A joyous triumph 
over rationality corresponded in its radicaHsm with the unavoidable and 
equally radical rejection by an ethics of any kind of other- or supra- 


worldly salvation. For such ethics, the triumph of the spirit over the 
body should find its cHmax precisely here, and sexual life could even 
gain the character of the only and the ineradicable connection with 
animality. But this tension between an inner-worldly and an other- 
worldly salvation from rationality must be sharpest and most unavoid- 
able precisely where the sexual sphere is systematically prepared for a 
highly valued erotic sensation. This sensation reinterprets and glorifies 
all the pure animality of the relation, whereas the religion of salvation 
assumes the character of a religion of love, brotherhood, and neighborly 

Under these conditions, the erotic relation seems to offer the unsur- 
passable peak of the fulfilment of the request for love in the direct fusion 
of the souls of one to the other. This boundless giving of oneself is as 
radical as possible in its opposition to all functionality, rationality, and 
generality. It is displayed here as the unique meaning which one crea- 
ture in his irrationality has for another, and only for this specific other. 
However, from the point of view of eroticism, this meaning, and with 
it the value-content of the relation itself, rests upon the possibility of a 
communion which is felt as a complete unification, as a fading of the 
'thou.' It is so overpowering that it is interpreted 'symbolically': as a 
sacrament. The lover realizes himself to be rooted in the kernel of the 
truly living, which is eternally inaccessible to any rational endeavor. He 
knows himself to be freed from the cold skeleton hands of rational 
orders, just as completely as from the banality of everyday routine. This 
consciousness of the lover rests upon the ineflaceability and inexhaustible- 
ness of his own experience. The experience is by no means communica- 
ble and in this respect it is equivalent to the 'having' of the mystic. This 
is not only due to the intensity of the lover's experience, but to the im- 
mediacy of the possessed reality. Knowing 'life itself joined to him, the 
lover stands opposite what is for him the objectless experiences of the 
mystic, as if he were facing the fading light of an unreal sphere. 

As the knowing love of the mature man stands to the passionate en- 
thusiasm of the youth, so stands the deadly earnestness of this eroticism 
of intellectuahsm to chivalrous love. In contrast to chivalrous love, this 
mature love of intellectualism reaffirms the natural quality of the sexual 
sphere, but it does so consciously, as an embodied creative power. 

A principled ethic of religious brotherhood is radically and antagonisti- 
cally opposed to all this. From the point of view of such an ethic, this 
inner, earthly sensation of salvation by mature love competes in the 


sharpest possible way with the devotion of a supra-mundane God, with 
the devotion of an ethically rational order of God, or with the devotion 
of a mystical bursting of individuation, which alone appear 'genuine' to 
the ethic of brotherhood. 

Certain psychological interrelations of both spheres sharpen the ten- 
sion between religion and sex. The highest eroticism stands psychologi- 
cally and physiologically in a mutually substitutive relation with certain 
sublimated forms of heroic piety. In opposition to the rational, active 
asceticism which rejects the sexual as irrational, and which is felt by 
eroticism to be a powerful and deadly enemy, this substitutive relation- 
ship is oriented especially to the mystic's union with God. From this 
relation there follows the constant threat of a deadly sophisticated re- 
venge of animality, or of an unmediated slipping from the mystic realm 
of God into the realm of the All-Too-Human. This psychological affinity 
naturally increases the antagonism of inner meanings between eroticism 
and religion. 

From the point of view of any religious ethic of brotherhood, the 
erotic relation must remain attached, in a certain sophisticated measure, 
to brutality. The more sublimated it is, the more brutal. Unavoidably, 
it is considered to be a relation of conflict. This conflict is not only, 
or even predominantly, jealousy and the will to possession, excluding 
third ones. It is far more the most intimate coercion of the soul of the 
less brutal partner. This coercion exists because it is never noticed by 
the partners themselves. Pretending to be the most humane devotion, it 
is a sophisticated enjoyment of oneself in the other. No consummated 
erotic corrmiunion will know itself to be founded in any way other 
than through a mysterious destination for one another: fate, in this 
highest sense of the word. Thereby, it will know itself to be 'legitimized' 
(in an entirely amoral sense). 

But, for salvation religion, this 'fate' is nothing but the purely fortu- 
itous flaming up of passion. The thus established pathological obsession, 
idiosyncrasy, and shifting of perspectives and of every objective justice 
must appear to salvation religion as the most complete denial of all 
brotherly love and of bondage to God. The euphoria of the happy lover 
is felt to be 'goodness'; it has a friendly urge to poeticize all the world 
with happy features or to bewitch all the world in a naive enthusiasm 
for the diffusion of happiness. And always it meets with the cool mockery 
of the genuinely religiously founded and radical ethic of brotherhood. 
The psychologically most thorough portions of Tolstoi's early work may 


be cited in this connection.* In the eyes of this ethic, the most subUmated 
eroticism is the counter-pole of all religiously oriented brotherliness, in 
these aspects: it must necessarily be exclusive in its inner core; it must 
be subjective in the highest imaginable sense; and it must be absolutely 

All this, of course, is quite apart from the fact that the passionate char- 
acter of eroticism as such appears to the religion of brotherhood as an 
undignified loss of self-control and as the loss of orientation towards 
either the rationahty and wisdom of norms willed by God or the mystic 
'having' of godliness. However, for eroticism, genuine 'passion' per se 
constitutes the type of beauty, and its rejection is blasphemy. 

For psychological reasons and in accordance with its meaning, the 
erotic frenzy stands in unison only with the orgiastic and charismatic 
form of religiosity. This form is, however, in a special sense, inner- 
worldly. The acknowledgment of the act of marriage, of the copula car- 
nalis, as a 'sacrament' of the Catholic Church is a concession to this 
sentiment. Eroticism enters easily into an unconscious and unstable rela- 
tion of surrogateship or fusion with other-worldly and extraordinary 
mysticism. This occurs with very sharp inner tension between eroticism 
and mysticism. It occurs because they are psychologically substitutive. 
Out of this fusion the collapse into orgiasticism follows very readily. 

Inner-worldly and rational asceticism (vocational asceticism) can ac- 
cept only the rationally regulated marriage. This type of marriage is 
accepted as one of the divine ordinations given to man as a creature who 
is hopelessly wretched by virtue of his 'concupiscence.' Within this divine 
order it is given to man to live according to the rational purposes laid 
down by it and only according to them: to procreate and to rear chil- 
dren, and mutually to further one another in the state of grace. This 
inner-worldly rational asceticism must reject every sophistication of the 
sexual into eroticism as idolatry of the worst kind. In its turn, this asceti- 
cism gathers the primal, naturalist, and z/wsublimated sexuality of the 
peasant into a rational order of man as creature. All elements of 'pas- 
sion,' however, are then considered as residues of the Fall, According to 
Luther, God, in order to prevent worse, peeks at and is lenient with 
these elements of passion. The other-worldly rational asceticism (active 

* Especially in War and Peace. The position of die religion of salvation is fixed fairly 
clearly with Ascvagosha. Incidentally, Nietzsche's well-known analyses in the Will to 
Power are in substance completely in unison with this, despite — indeed precisely because 
of — the clearly recognized transvaluation of values. 


asceticism of the monk) also rejects these passionate elements, and 
with them all sexuality, as a diabolic power endangering salvation. The 
ethic of the Quakers (as it is displayed in William Penn's letters to his 
wife) may well have achieved a genuinely humane interpretation of the 
inner and religious values of marriage. In this respect the Quaker ethic 
went beyond the rather gross Lutheran interpretation of the meaning 
of marriage. 

From a purely inner-worldly point of view, only the Hnkage of mar- 
riage with the thought of ethical responsibility for one another — whence a 
category heterogeneous to the purely erotic sphere — can carry the senti- 
ment that something unique and supreme might be embodied in mar- 
riage; that it might be the transformation of the feeling of a love which 
is conscious of responsibility throughout all the nuances of the organic 
life process, 'up to the pianissimo of old age,' and a mutual granting of 
oneself to another and the becoming indebted to each other (in Goethe's 
sense). Rarely does life grant such value in pure form. He to whom it is 
given may speak of fate's fortune and grace — not of his own 'merit.' 

8: The Intellectual Sphere 

The rejection of all naive surrender to the most intensive ways of 
experiencing existence, artistic and erotical, is as such only a negative 
attitude. But it is obvious that such rejection could increase the force with 
which energies flow into rational achievement, both the ethical as well 
as the purely intellectual. It must be noted, however, that the self-con- 
scious tension of religion is greatest and most principled where religion 
faces the sphere of intellectual knowledge. 

There is a unity in the realm of magic and in the purely magical 
image of the world, as we have noted in the case of Chinese thought. 
A far-going and mutual recognition is also possible between religion 
and purely metaphysical speculation, although as a rule this speculation 
easily leads to skepticism. Religion, therefore, frequently considers purely 
empirical research, including that of natural science, as more reconcilable 
to religious interests than it does philosophy. This is the case above all 
in ascetic Protestantism. 

The tension between religion and intellectual knowledge definitely 
comes to the fore wherever rational, empirical knowledge has consist- 
ently worked through to the disenchantment of the world and its trans- 
formation into a causal mechanism. For then science encounters the 


claims of the ethical postulate that the world is a God-ordained, and 
hence somehow meaningfully and ethically oriented, cosmos. In princi- 
ple, the empirical as well as the mathematically oriented view of the 
world develops refutations of every intellectual approach which in any 
way asks for a 'meaning' of iimer-worldly occurrences. Every increase of 
rationalism in empirical science increasingly pushes religion from the 
rational into the irrational realm; but only today does religion become 
the irrational or anti-rational supra-human power. The extent of con- 
sciousness or of consistency in the experience of this contrast, however, 
varies widely. Athanasius won out with his formula — completely absurd 
when viewed rationally — in his struggle against the majority of the 
Hellenic philosophers of the time; it does not seem inconceivable, as 
has been said, that among other reasons he really wanted to compel 
them expressly to make the intellectual sacrifice and to fix a limit to 
rational discussion. Soon afterwards, however, the Trinity itself was 
rationally argued and discussed. 

Because of this apparently irreconcilable tension, prophetic as well as 
priestly religions have repeatedly stood in intimate relation with rational 
intellectualism. The less magic or merely contemplative mysticism and 
the more 'doctrine' a religion contains, the greater is its need of rational 
apologetics. The sorcerers everywhere have been the typical keepers of 
myths and heroic sagas, because they have participated in educating and 
training young warriors in order to awaken them for heroic ecstasy and 
heroic regeneration. From them the priesthood, as the only agents capa- 
ble of conserving tradition, took over the training of youth in the law 
and often also in purely administrative technologies, and, above all, in 
writing and in calculus. The more religion became book-religion and 
doctrine, the more literary it became and the more efficacious it was in 
provoking rational lay-thinking, freed of priestly control. From the think- 
ing laymen, however, emerged the prophets, who were hostile to priests; 
as well as the mystics, who searched salvation independently of priests 
and sectarians; and finally the skeptics and philosophers, who were hos- 
tile to faith. 

A rationalization of priestly apologetics reacted against all of these 
developments. Anti-religious skepticism, per se, was represented in 
China, in Egypt, in the Vedas, in post-exilic Jewish literature. In princi- 
ple, it was just as it is today; almost no new arguments have been added. 
Therefore, the central question of power for the priesthood became the 
monopolization of the education of youth. 



With the increasing rationaHzation of poHtical administration, the 
power of the priesthood could increase. In the early times of Egypt and 
Babylon, the priesthood alone procured the scribes for the state. It was 
the same for the medieval prince when administration based on docu- 
ments began. Of the great systems of pedagogy, only Confucianism and 
that of Mediterranean Antiquity have known how to escape the power of 
priesthood. The former succeeded by virtue of its powerful state bureauc- 
racy the latter through the absolute lack of bureaucratic administration. 
With the ehmination of priests from education, priestly religion itself 
was eliminated in these cases. With these exceptions, however, the priest- 
hoods have regularly furnished and controlled the personnel of schools. 

It has not only been these genuinely priestly interests that have made 
for ever-renewed connections between religion and intellectualism. It has 
also been the inward compulsion of the rational character of religious 
ethics and the specifically intellectualist quest for salvation. In effect, 
every religion in its psychological and intellectual sub-structure and in 
its practical conclusions has taken a different stand towards intellectual- 
ism, without however allowing the ultimate inward tension to disappear. 
For the tension rests on the unavoidable disparity among ultimate forms 
of images of the world. 

There is absolutely no 'unbroken' religion working as a vital force 
which is not compelled at some point to demand the credo non quod, 
sed quia absurdum — the 'sacrifice of the intellect.' 

It is hardly necessary and it would be impossible to treat in detail the 
stages of the tension between religion and intellectual knowledge. Re- 
demptory religion defends itself against the attack of the self-sufficient 
intellect. It does so, of course, in the most principled fashion, by raising 
the claim that religious knowledge moves in a different sphere and that 
the nature and meaning of religious knowledge is entirely different from 
the accomplishments of the intellect. Religion claims to offer an ultimate 
stand toward the world by virtue of a direct grasp of the world's 'mean- 
ing.' It does not claim to offer intellectual knowledge concerning what 
is or what should be. It claims to unlock the meaning of the world not 
by means of the intellect but by virtue of a charisma of illumination. 
This charisma is said to be imparted only to those who make use of 
the respective technique and free themselves from the misleading and 
deceptive surrogates which are given out as knowledge by the confused 
impressions of the senses and the empty abstractions of the intellect. 
Religion believes that these are in truth irrelevant for salvation. By free- 


ing himself from them, a reHgious man is said to make himself ready 
for the reception of the all-important grasp of the meaning of the world 
and of his own existence. In all the endeavors of philosophy to make 
this ultimate meaning, and the (practical) stand which follows from 
grasping, demonstrable redemptory religion will see nothing but the 
intellect's desire to escape its own lawful autonomy. The same view is 
held of philosophical attempts to gain any intuitive knowledge, which, 
although concerned with the 'being' of things, has a dignity which prin- 
cipally differs from that of religious knowledge. Above all, religion sees 
all this as a specific product of the very rationalism that intellectualism, 
by these endeavors, would very much Hke to escape. 

Salvation religion, however, viewed from its own position, is to be 
blamed for equally inconsistent trespasses as soon as it surrenders the 
unassailable incommunicability of mystic experiences. If it is consistent, 
such religion can only have the means of bringing mystic experiences 
about as events; it has no means of adequately communicating and dem- 
onstrating them. Every attempt to influence the world must entice mysti- 
cal religion to run this danger, as soon as the attempt assumes the char- 
acter of propaganda. The same holds for every attempt to interpret the 
meaning of the universe rationally, but nevertheless the attempt has 
been made again and again. 

Religious postulates can come into conflict with the 'world' from dif- 
fering points of view, and the point of view involved is always of the 
greatest importance for the direction and for the way in which salvation 
will be striven for. At all times and in all places, the need for salvation— 
consciously cultivated as the substance of religiosity — has resulted from 
the endeavor of a systematic and practical rationalization of life's realities. 
To be sure, this connection has been maintained with varying degrees 
of transparency: on this level, all religions have demanded as a specific 
presupposition that the course of the world be somehow meaningful, at 
least in so far as it touches upon the interests of men. As we have seen, 
this claim naturally emerged first as the customary problem of unjust 
suffering, and hence as the postulate of a just compensation for the 
unequal distribution of individual happiness in the world. From here, 
the claim has tended to progress step by step towards an ever-increasing 
devaluation of the world. For the more intensely rational thought has 
seized upon the problem of a just and retributive compensation, the 
less an entirely inner-worldly solution could seem possible, and the less 
an other-worldly solution could appear probable or even meaningful. 


In so far as appearances show, the actual course of the world has been 
little concerned with this postulate of compensation. The ethically un- 
motivated inequaUty in the distribution of happiness and misery, for 
which a compensation has seemed conceivable, has remained irrational; 
and so has the brute fact that suffering exists. For the universal diffusion 
of suffering could only be replaced by another and still more irrational 
problem, the question of the origin of sin, which, according to the teach- 
ing of prophets and priests, is to explain suffering as a punishment or as 
a means of discipline. A world created for the committing of sin must 
appear still less ethically perfect than a world condemned to suffering. 
In any case, the absolute imperfection of this world has been firmly 
established as an ethical postulate. And the futility of worldly things has 
seemed to be meaningful and justified only in terms of this imperfection. 
Such justification, however, could appear suitable for devaluating the 
world even further. For it was not only, or even primarily, the worthless 
which proved to be transitory. The fact that death and ruin, with their 
leveling effects, overtake good men and good works, as well as evil ones, 
could appear to be a depreciation of precisely the supreme values of 
this world — once the idea of a perpetual duration of time, of an eternal 
God, and an eternal order had been conceived. In the face of this, values 
— and precisely the most highly cherished values — have been hallowed as 
being 'timelessly' valid. Hence, the significance of their realization in 
'culture' has been stated to be independent of the temporal duration of 
their concretion. Thereupon the ethical rejection of the empirical world 
could be further intensified. For at this point onto the religious horizon 
could enter a train of thoughts of far greater significance than were the 
imperfection and futility of worldly things, because these ideas were fit 
to indict precisely the 'cultural values' which usually rank highest. 

These values have borne the stigma of a deadly sin, of an unavoidable 
and specific burden of guilt. They have proved to be bound to the 
charisma of the mind or of taste. Their cultivation has seemed inevitably 
to presuppose modes of existence which run counter to the demand for 
brotherliness and which could only be adapted to this demand by self- 
deception. The barriers of education and of esthetic cultivation are the 
most intimate and the most insuperable of all status differences. Religious 
guilt could now appear not only as an occasional concomitant, but as an 
integral part of all culture, of all conduct in a civilized world, and finally, 
of all structured life in general. And thereby the ultimate values which 
this world offered have seemed burdened with the greatest guilt. 


Wherever the external order of the social community has turned into 
the culture community of the state it obviously could be maintained 
only by brutal force, which was concerned with justice only nominally 
and occasionally and in any case only so far as reasons of state have 
permitted. This force has inevitably bred new deeds of violence against 
external and internal enemies; in addition, it has bred dishonest pre- 
texts for such deeds. Hence it has signified an overt, or what must appear 
worse, a pharisaically veiled, absence of love. The routinized economic 
cosmos, and thus the rationally highest form of the provision of material 
goods which is indispensable for all worldly culture, has been a struc- 
ture to which the absence of love is attached from the very root. All 
forms of activity in the structured world has appeared to be entangled 
in the same guilt. 

Veiled and sublimated brutality, idiosyncrasy hostile to brotherliness, 
as well as illusionist shifts of a just sense of proportion have inevitably 
accompanied sexual love. The more powerfully the forces of sexual love 
are deployed the less they are noticed by the participants, and the more 
veiled they are in a Pharisaic way. Ethical religiosity has appealed to 
rational knowledge, which has followed its own autonomous and inner- 
worldly norms. It has fashioned a cosmos of truths which no longer had 
anything to do with the systematic postulates of a rational religious 
ethic; with the result that the world as a cosmos must satisfy the de- 
mands of a religious ethic or evince some 'meaning.' On the contrary, 
rational knowledge has had to reject this claim in principle. The cosmos 
of natural causality and the postulated cosmos of ethical, compensatory 
causality have stood in irreconcilable opposition. 

Science has created this cosmos of natural causality and has seemed 
unable to answer with certainty the question of its own ultimate pre- 
suppositions. Nevertheless science, in the name of 'intellectual integrity,' 
has come forward with the claim of representing the only possible form 
of a reasoned view of the world. The intellect, like all culture values, has 
created an aristocracy based on the possession of rational culture and 
independent of all personal ethical qualities of man. The aristocracy of 
intellect is hence an unbrotherly aristocracy. Worldly man has regarded 
this possession of culture as the highest good. In addition to the burden 
of ethical guilt, however, something has adhered to this cultural value 
which was bound to depreciate it with still greater finality, namely, 
senselessness— if this cultural value is to be judged in terms of its own 


The purely inner-worldly perfection of self of a man of culture, hence 
the ultimate value to which 'culture' has seemed to be reducible, is 
meaningless for religious thought. This follows for religious thought 
from the obvious meaninglessness of death, meaningless precisely when 
viewed from the inner-worldly standpoint. And under the very condi- 
tions of 'culture,' senseless death has seemed only to put the decisive 
stamp upon the senselessness of life itself. 

The peasant, like Abraham, could die 'satiated with life.' The feudal 
landlord and the warrior hero could do likewise. For both fulfilled a 
cycle of their existence beyond which they did not reach. Each in his 
way could attain an inner-worldly perfection as a result of the naive 
unambiguity of the substance of his life. But the 'cultivated' man who 
strives for self-perfection, in the sense of acquiring or creating 'cultural 
values,' cannot do this. He can become 'weary of life' but he cannot 
become 'satiated with life' in the sensf^ of completing a cycle. For the 
perfectibility of the man of culture in principle progresses indefinitely, 
as do the cultural values. And the segment which the individual and 
passive recipient or the active co-builder can comprise in the course of a 
finite life becomes the more trifling the more differentiated and multi- 
plied the cultural values and the goals for self-perfection become. Hence 
the harnessing of man into this external and internal cosmos of culture 
can offer the less likelihood that an individual would absorb either 
culture as a whole or what in any sense is 'essential' in culture. Moreover 
there exists no definitive criterion for judging the latter. It thus becomes 
less and less likely that 'culture' and the striving for culture can have 
any inner-worldly meaning for the individual. 

The 'culture' of the individual certainly does not consist of the quan- 
tity of 'cultural values' which he amasses; it consists of an articulated 
selection of culture values. But there is no guarantee that this selection 
has reached an end that would be meaningful to him precisely at the 
'accidental' time of his death. He might even turn his back to life with 
an air of distinction: 'I have enough — life has offered (or denied) all 
that made living worthwhile for me.' This proud attitude to the reHgion 
of salvation must appear as a disdainful blasphemy of the God-ordained 
ways of life and destinies. No redemption religion positively approves 
of 'death by one's own hand,' that is, a death which has been hallowed 
only by philosophies. 

Viewed in this way, all 'culture' appears as man's emancipation from 
the organically prescribed cycle of natural life. For this very reason 


culture's every step forward seems condemned to lead to an ever more 
devastating senselessness. The advancement of cultural values, however, 
seems to become a senseless hustle in the service of worthless, moreover 
self-contradictory, and mutually antagonistic ends. The advancement 
of cultural values appears the more meaningless the more it is made a 
holy task, a 'calling.' 

Culture becomes ever more senseless as a locus of imperfection, of 
injustice, of suffering, of sin, of futility. For it is necessarily burdened 
with guilt, and its deployment and differentiation thus necessarily be- 
come ever more meaningless. Viewed from a purely ethical point of 
view, the world has to appear fragmentary and devalued in all those 
instances when judged in the light of the religious postulate of a divine 
'meaning' of existence. This devaluation results from the conflict be- 
tween the rational claim and reality, between the rational ethic and 
the partly rational, and partly irrational values. With every construction 
of the specific nature of each special sphere existing in the world, this 
conflict has seemed to come to the fore ever more sharply and more 
insolubly. The need for 'salvation' responds to this devaluation by be- 
coming more other-worldly, more alienated from all structured forms 
of life, and, in exact parallel, by confining itself to the specific religious 
essence. This reaction is the stronger the more systematic the thinking 
about the 'meaning' of the universe becomes, the more the external or- 
ganization of the world is rationalized, and the more the conscious experi- 
ence of the world's irrational content is sublimated. And not only 
theoretical thought, disenchanting the world, led to this course, but also 
the very attempt of religious ethics practically and ethically to rational- 
ize the world. 

The specific intellectual and mystical attempts at salvation in the face 
of these tensions succumb in the end to the world dominion of un- 
brotherliness. On the one hand, their charisma is not accessible to every- 
body. Hence, in intent, mystical salvation definitely means aristocracy; 
it is an aristocratic religiosity of redemption. And, in the midst of a 
culture that is rationally organized for a vocational workaday life, there 
is hardly any room for the cultivation of acosmic brotherliness, unless 
it is among strata who are economically carefree. Under the technical 
and social conditions of rational culture, an imitation of the life of 
Buddha, Jesus, or Francis seems condemned to failure for purely exter- 
nal reasons. 

358 religion 

9: The Three Forms of Theodicy 

The individual redemption ethics of the past which have rejected the 
wrorld have appHed their rejection of the world at very different points 
of this purely rationally constructed scale. This has depended upon 
numerous concrete circumstances which cannot be ascertained by a 
theoretical typology. Besides these circumstances, a rational element has 
played its part, namely, the structure of a special theodicy. The meta- 
physical need responded to the awareness of existing and unbridgeable 
tensions, and through theodicy it tried to find a common meaning in 
spite of all. 

Among the three types of theodicy we have already * designated as 
alone consistent, dualism could well serve this need. Dualism maintains 
that always the powers of light and truth, purity and goodness coexist 
and conflict with the powers of darkness and falsehood, impurity and 
evil. In the last analysis this dualism is only a direct systematization of 
the magical pluralism of the spirits with their division of good (useful) 
and evil (harmful) spirits which represent the preliminary stages of the 
antagonism between deities and demons. 

Zoroastrism was the prophetic religiousness which realized this con- 
ception most consistently. Here dualism set out with the magical con- 
trast between 'clean' and 'unclean.' All virtues and vices were integrated 
into this contrast. It involved renouncing the omnipotence of a god 
whose power was indeed limited by the existence of a great antagonist. 
The contemporary followers (the Parsees) have actually given up this 
belief because they could not endure this limitation of divine power. In 
the most consistent eschatology, the world of purity and the world of 
impurity, from the mixture of which the fragmentary empirical world 
emanated, separated again and again into two unrelated realms. The 
more modern eschatological hope, however, makes the god of purity 
and benevolence triumph, just as Christianity makes the Savior triumph 
over the devil. This less consistent form of dualism is the popular, world- 
wide conception of heaven and hell, which restores God's sovereignty 
over the evil spirit who is His creature, and thereby believes that divine 
omnipotence is saved. But, willy-nilly, it must then, overtly or covertly, 
sacrifice some of the divine love. For if omniscience is maintained, the 
creation of a power of radical evil and the admission of sin, especially 

* Cf. chapter xi, pp. 275 flf. of this volume. 


in communion with the enternity of hell's punishments for one of God's 
own and finite creatures and for finite sins, simply does not correspond 
to divine love. In that case, only a renunciation of benevolence is con- 

The belief in predestination realizes this renunciation, in fact and 
with full consistency, Man's acknowledged incapacity to scrutinize the 
ways of God means that he renounces in a loveless clarity man's ac- 
cessibility to any meaning of the world. This renunciation brought all 
problems of this sort to an end. Outside of the circle of eminent virtuosos 
the belief in this consistency has not been permanently endured. This 
was the case because the belief in predestination — in contrast to the 
belief in the irrational power of 'fate' — demands the assumption of a 
providential, and hence a somehow rational, destination of the con- 
demned, not only to doom but to evil, while demanding the 'punish- 
ment' of the condemned and therewith the application of an ethical 

We have dealt with the significance of the belief in predestination 
[elsewhere]." We shall deal with Zoroastrian dualism later, and only 
briefly — ^because the number of the believers is small. It might be omitted 
entirely were it not for the influence of the Persian ideas of final judg- 
ment, as well as of the doctrine of demons and angels, upon late Juda- 
ism. Because of such influences, Zoroastrism is of considerable historical 

The third form of theodicy which we are going to discuss was peculiar 
to the religiosity of Indian intellectuals. It stands out by virtue of its 
consistency as well as by its extraordinary metaphysical achievement: It 
unites virtuoso-like self-redemption by man's own eflFort with universal 
accessibility of salvation, the strictest rejection of the world with organic 
social ethics, and contemplation as the paramount path to salvation with 
an inner-worldly vocational ethic. 

Part IV 


yCi V . Capitalism and Jxural Oociety in Germany 

Of all communities, the social constitution of rural districts are the most 
individual and the most closely connected with particular historical de- 
velopments. It would not be reasonable to speak collectively of the 
rural conditions of Russia, Ireland, Sicily, Hungary, and the Black Belt. 
Even if I confine myself to districts with developed capitalistic cultures, 
it is scarcely possible to treat the subject from one common point of 
view. For a rural society, separate from the urban social community, 
does not exist at the present time in a great part of the modern civilized 
world. It no longer exists in England, except, perhaps, in the thoughts 
of dreamers. The constant proprietor of the soil, the landlord, is not an 
agriculturist but a lessor; and the temporary owner of the estate, the 
tenant or lessee, is an entrepreneur, a capitalist like any other. The 
laborers are partly seasonal and migrating; the rest are journeymen of 
exactly the same class as other proletarians; they are joined together for 
a certain time and then are scattered again. If there is a specific rural 
social problem it is only this: Whether and how the rural community 
or society, which no longer exists, can arise again so as to be strong and 

In the United States, at least in the vast cereal-producing areas, what 
might be called 'rural society' does not now exist. The old New England 
town, the Mexican village, and the old slave plantation do not determine 
the physiognomy of the country any longer. The peculiar conditions of 
the first settlements in the primeval forests and on the prairies have 
disappeared. The American farmer is an entrepreneur like any other. 
Certainly there are numerous farmers' problems, chiefly of a technical 
character or pertaining to transportation, which have played their role 
in politics and have been excellently discussed by American scholars. 

Adapted from a translation by C. W. Seidenadel, 'The Relations of the Rural Commun- 
ity to other Branches of Social Science,' Congress of Arts and Science, Unwersal Exposition. 
Si. Louis (Boston and New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1906), vol. vii, pp. 725-46. 



But no specific rural social problem exists as yet in America, indeed no 
such problem has existed since the abolition of slavery and the solution 
o£ the question of settling and disposing of the immense area which was 
in the hands of the Union. The present difficult social problems of the 
South, in the rural districts also, are essentially ethnic and not economic. 
One cannot establish a theory of rural community as a characteristic 
social formation on the basis of questions concerning irrigation, railroad 
tariff, homestead laws, et cetera, however important these matters may 
be. This may change in the future. But if anything is characteristic of 
the rural conditions of the great wheat-producing states of America, it 
is — to speak in general terms-^the absolute economic individualism of 
the farmer, the quality of the farmer as a mere businessman.\ 

Probably it will be fruitful to explain briefly in what respects and for 
what reasons all this is different on the European Continent. The dif- 
ference is caused by the specific effects of capitalism in old civilized^ 
countries with dense populations. 

If a nation such as Germany supports its inhabitants, whose number 
is only a little smaller than the white population of the United States, 
in a space smaller in size than the state of Texas; if it has founded and 
is determined to maintain its political position and the importance of its 
culture for the world upon this narrow, limited basis — then the manner 
in which the land is distributed becomes of determining importance for 
the differentiation of the society and for all economic and political con- 
ditions of the country. Because of the close congestion of the inhabitants 
and the lower valuation of the raw labor force, the possibility of quickly 
acquiring estates which have not been inherited is limited. Thus social 
differentiation is necessarily fixed — a fate which the United States also 
approaches. This fate increases the power of historical tradition, which 
is naturally great in agricultural production. 

The importance of technical revolutions in agricultural production is 
diminished by the so-called 'law of decreasing productivity of the land,' 
by the stronger natural Hmits and conditions of production, and by the 
more constant limitation of the quality and quantity of the means of 
production. In spite of technical progress, rural production can be revo- 
lutionized least by a purely rational division and combination of labor, 
by acceleration of the turnover of capital, and by substituting inorganic 
raw materials and mechanical means of production for organic raw 
materials and labor forces. The power of tradition inevitably predom- 
inates in agriculture; it creates and maintains types of rural population 


on the European Continent which do not exist in a new country, such 
as the United States; to these types belongs, first of all, the European 

The European peasant is totally different from the farmer of England 
or of America. The English farmer today is sometimes quite a remark- 
able entrepreneur and producer for the market; almost always he has 
rented his estate. The American farmer is an agriculturist who has usually 
acquired, by purchase or by being the first settler, the land as his own 
property; but sometimes he rents it. In America the farmer produces 
for the market. The market is older than the producer in America. The 
European peasant of the old type was a man who, in most instances, 
inherited the land and who produced primarily for his own wants. In 
Europe the market is younger than the producer. Of course, for many 
years the peasant sold his surplus products and, though he spun and 
wove, he could not satisfy his needs by his own work. The past two 
thousand years did not train the peasant to produce in order to gain 

Until the time of the French Revolution, the European peasant was 
only considered a means for supporting certain ruling classes. His first 
duty was to provide, as cheaply as possible, the neighboring town with 
food. As far as possible, the city prohibited rural trade and the exporta- 
tion of cereals as long as its own citizens were not provided. Matters 
remained in this condition until the end of the eighteenth century. The 
artificial maintenance of the cities at the expense of the country was 
also a principle followed by the princes, who wanted to have money in 
their respective countries and large intakes of taxes. Moreover by his 
services and by his payment of taxes, the peasant was doomed to support 
the landlord, who possessed the higher ownership of the land and quite 
often the right to the peasant's body as well. This remained the case 
until the revolutions of 1789 and 1848. The peasant's duties included 
the payment of taxes on his ^estate to the political lord. The knight was 
exempt from this. The peasant also had to supply the armies with re- 
cruits, from which the cities were exempt. These conditions remained in 
force until tax-privileges were abolished and service in the army became 
compulsory for everyone, in the nineteenth century. Finally, the peasant 
was dependent upon the productive community into which the half- 
communist settlement had placed him two thousand years ago. He could 
not manage as he wanted, but as the primeval rotation of crops pre- 
scribed, a condition which continued to exist until these half-communist 


bonds were dissolved.! Yet even after the abolition of all this legal de- 
pendency, the peasant could not become a rationally producing small 
agriculturist as, for instance, is the case with the American farmer.) 

Numerous relics of the ancient communist conditions of forest, water, 
pasture, and even arable land, which firmly united the peasants and 
tied them to the inherited form of husbandry, survived their liberation. 
The village, with the characteristic contrasts to the individual settlements 
of American farmers, also survived. To these relics of the past, which 
America has never known, certain factors are nowadays added. America 
will one day also experience the effects of such factors — the effects of 
modern capitalism under the conditions of completely settled old civilized 
countries. In Europe limited territory causes a specific social estimation 
of the ownership of land, and the tendency to retain it, by bequest, 
in the family. The superabundance of the labor force diminishes the 
desire to save labor by the use of machines. By virtue of migration into 
cities and foreign countries, the labor force in Europe has become lim- 
ited and dear. On the other hand, the high price of the land, caused by 
continual purchases and hereditary divisions, diminishes the capital of the 
buyer. It is not now possible to gain a possible fortune by agriculture in 
Europe. And the time in which this will be possible in the United States 
is approaching its limit. We must not forget that the boiling heat of 
modern capitalistic culture is connected with heedless consumption of 
natural resources, for which there are no substitutes. It is difficult to 
determine how long the present supply of coal and ore will last. The 
utilization of new farm lands will soon have reached an end in Amer- 
ica; in Europe it no longer exists. The agriculturist can never hope to 
gain more than a modest equivalent for his work as a husbandman. 
He is, in Europe, and also to a great extent in this country, excluded 
from participating in the great opportunities open to speculative business 

The strong blast of modern capitalistic competition rushes against a 
conservative opposing current in agriculture, and it is exactly rising 
capitalism which increases this counter-current in old civilized countries. 
The use of the land as a capital investment, and the sinking rate of in- 
terest in connection with the traditional social evaluation of rural lands, 
push up the price of land to such a height that it is always paid partly 
au fonds perdu, that is to say, as entree, as an entrance fee into this 
social stratum. Thus by increasing the capital required for agricultural 
operations, capitalism causes an increase in the number of renters of 


land who are idle. In these ways, peculiar contrasting effects of capitalism 
are produced, and these contrasting effects by themselves make the open 
countryside of Europe appear to support a separate 'rural society.' Under 
the conditions of old civilized countries, the differences caused by cap- 
italism assume the character of a cultural contest. Two social tendencies 
resting upon entirely heterogeneous bases thus wrestle with each other. 

The old economic order asked: How can I give, on this piece of land, 
work and sustenance to the greatest possible number of men ? Capitalism 
asks: From this given piece of land how can I produce as many crops 
as possible for the market with as few men as possible? From the tech- 
nical economic point of view of capitalism, the old rural settlements of 
the country are, therefore, considered overpopulated. Capitalism extracts 
produce from the land, from the mines, foundries, and machine indus- 
tries. The thousands of years of the past struggle against the invasion 
of the capitalistic spirit. 

This struggle assumes, at least in part, the form of a peaceful trans- 
formation. In certain points of agricultural production, the small peasant, 
if he knows how to free himself from the fetters of tradition, is able to 
adapt to the conditions of the new husbandry. The rising rate of rent in 
the vicinity of the cities, the rising prices for meat, dairy products, and 
garden vegetables, as well as the intensive care of young cattle possible 
for the self-employed small farmer, and the higher expenses involved 
in hiring men — these factors usually afford very favorable opportunities 
to the small farmer who works without hired help near wealthy centers 
o£ industry. This is the case wherever the process of production is de- 
veloped in the direction of increasing intensity of labor, rather than of 

The former peasant is thus transformed into a laborer who owns his 
means of production, as we may observe in France and in southwestern 
Germany. He maintains his independence because of the intensity and 
the high quality of his work, which is increased by his private interest 
in it and his adaptability of it to the demands of the local market. These 
factors give him an economic superiority, which continues, even where 
agriculture on a large scale could technically predominate. 

The great success of the formation of co-operatives among the small 
farmers of the Continent must be ascribed to these peculiar advantages 
which, in certain branches of production, the responsible small agricul- 
turist possesses as over against the hired laborer of the large farmer. 
These co-operatives have proved the most influential means of the peas- 


ants' education for husbandry. Through them new communities of hus- 
bandry are created, which bind the peasants together and direct their 
way of economic thinking and feeHng away from the purely individ- 
uahstic form which the economic struggle for existence in industry 
assumes under the pressure of competition. This, again, is only possible 
because of the great importance of the natural conditions of production 
in agriculture — its being bound to place, time, and organic means of 
work — and the social visibility of all farming operations which weaken 
the effectiveness of competition among farmers. 

Wherever the conditions of a specific economic superiority of small 
farming do not exist, because the qualitative importance of self-responsi- 
ble work is replaced by the importance of capital, there the old peasant 
struggles for his existence as a hireling of capital. It is the high social 
valuation of the landowner that makes him a subject of capital and ties 
him psychologically to the clod. Given the stronger economic and social 
differentiation of an old civilized country, the loss of his estate means 
degradation for the peasant. The peasant's struggle for existence often 
becomes an economic selection in favor of the most frugal, which means, 
of those most lacking in culture. For the pressure of agricultural com- 
petition is not felt by those who use their products for their own con- 
sumption and not as articles of trade; they sell only a few of their prod- 
ucts and hence they can buy only a few other products. Sometimes a 
partial retrogression into subsistence farming occurs. Only with the 
French 'system of two children' can the peasant maintain himself for 
generations as a small proprietor of the inherited land. The obstacles that 
the peasant who wants to become a modern agriculturist meets urge the 
separation of ownership from management. The landlord may either 
keep his capital in operation or withdraw it. In some areas the govern- 
ment tries to create a balance between property and lease. But on account 
of the high valuation of the land, the peasant can neither remain a 
peasant nor become a capitalist landlord. 

It is not yet possible to speak of a real 'contest' between capitalism and 
the power of historical influence, in this case of a growing conflict be- 
tween capital and ownership of the land. It is partly a process of selec- 
tion, and partly one of depravation. Quite different conditions prevail 
not only where an unorganized multitude of peasants are powerless in 
the chains of the financial powers of the cities, but where there is an 
aristocratic stratum above the peasants which struggles not only for its 
economic existence but also for the social standing which for centuries 


has been granted it. This is the case especially where such an aristocracy 
is not tied to the country by purely financial interests, as is the English 
landlord, or only by the interests of recreation and sport, but where its 
representatives are involved as agriculturists in the economic conflict 
and are closely connected with the country. The dissolving effects of 
capitaHsm are then increased. Because ownership of the land gives social 
position, the prices of the large estates rise high above the value of their 
productivity. Of the landlord, Byron asked: 'Why did God in his wrath 
create him.?' The answer is: 'Rents! Rents! Rents!' And, in fact, rents 
are the economic basis of all aristocracies which need a gentlemanly un- 
earned income for their existence. But precisely because the Prussian 
'Junker' despises the urban possession of money, capitalism makes a 
debtor of him. A strong, growing tension between city and country 
results from this. The conflict between capitalism and tradition is now 
tinged politically, for, if economic and political power definitely passes 
into the hands of the urban capitalist, the question arises whether the 
small rural centers of political intelligence, with their pecuharly tinged 
social culture, shall decay, and the cities, as the only carriers of political, 
social, and esthetic culture, shall occupy the entire field of the combat. 
This question is identical with the question whether people who have 
been able to live for politics and the state, for example, the old, econom- 
ically independent land aristocracy, shall be replaced by the exclusive 
domination of professional politicians who must live off politics and the 

In the United States this question has been decided, at any rate for the 
present, by one of the bloodiest wars of modern times, which ended 
with the destruction of the aristocratic, social, and political centers of 
the rural districts. Even in America, with its democratic traditions 
handed down by Puritanism as an everlasting heirloom, the victory over 
the planters' aristocracy was difficult and was gained with great political 
and social sacrifices. But in countries with old civilizations, matters are 
much more complicated. For there the struggle between the power of 
historical notions and the pressure of capitalist interests summon certain 
social forces to battle as adversaries of bourgeois capitalism. In the 
United States such forces were partly unknown, or stood partly on the 
side of the North. A few remarks concerning this may be made here. 

In the countries of old civilization and limited possibilities for eco- 
nomic expansion, money-making and its representatives necessarily play 
a considerably smaller social role than in a country that is still new. 


The importance of the stratum of state officials is and must be much 
greater in Europe than in the United States. The much more comphcated 
social organization makes a host of specially trained officials, employed 
for life, indispensable in Europe. In the United States only a much 
smaller number of them will exist, even after the movement of civil- 
service reform shall have attained all its aims. The jurist and adminis- 
trative official in Germany, in spite of his shorter and more intensive 
education in preparation for the university, is about thirty-five years old 
w^hen his time of preparation and his unsalaried activity is completed 
and he obtains a salaried office. Therefore, he can come only from 
wealthy circles; he is trained to unsalaried or low-salaried service and 
can find his reward for service only in the high social standing of his 
vocation. A character is thus stamped on him which is far from the 
interests of money-makers and which places him on the side of the 
adversaries of their dominion. If, in oM civilized countries such as Ger- 
many, the necessity of a strong army arises in order to maintain inde- 
pendence, this means, for poHtical institutions, the support of an hered- 
itary dynasty. 

The resolute follower of democratic institutions — as I am — cannot wish 
to remove the dynasty where it has been preserved. For in military 
states, if it is not the only historically indorsed form in which the 
Caesarian domination of military parvenus can be averted, it is still the 
best. France is continually menaced by such domination; dynasties are 
personally interested in the preservation of rights and of a legal govern- 
ment. Hereditary monarchy — one may judge about it theoretically as 
one wishes — warrants to a state, which is forced to be a military state, 
the greatest freedom of the citizens — as great as it can be in a monarchy — 
and so long as the dynasty does not become degenerated, it will have 
the political support of the majority of the nation. The English Parlia- 
ment knew very well why it offered Cromwell the crown, and Crom- 
well's army knew equally well why it prevented him from accepting it. 
Such an hereditary, privileged dynasty has a natural affinity with the 
holders of other social privileges. 

The church belongs to the conservative forces in European countries; 
first, the Roman Catholic Church, which, in Europe, even on account 
of the multitude of its followers, is a power of quite different importance 
and character than it possesses in Anglo-Saxon countries; but also the 
Lutheran Church. Both of these churches support the peasant, with his 
conservative way of life, against the dominion of urban rationalist cul- 


ture. The rural co-operative movement stands, to a great extent, under the 
guidance of clergymen, who are the only ones capable of leadership in 
the rural districts. Ecclesiastic, political, and economic points of view 
are here intermingled. In Belgium, the rural co-operatives are a means 
of the clerical party in their conflict against the socialists; the latter are 
supported by the consumers' unions and trade unions. In Italy, almost 
nobody finds credit with certain co-operatives unless he presents his 
confessional certificate. Likewise, a landed aristocracy finds strong back- 
ing in the church, although the Catholic Church is, in social regards, 
more democratic nowadays than formerly. The church is pleased with 
patriarchal labor relations because contrary to the purely commercial 
relations which capitalism creates, they are of a personal human char- 
acter. The church holds the sentiment that the relation between a lord 
and a serf, rather than the bare commercial conditions created by the 
labor market, can be developed and penetrated ethically. Deep, his- 
torically conditioned contrasts, which have always separated Catholicism 
and Lutheranism from Calvinism, strengthen this anti-capitalistic atti- 
tude of the European churches. 

Finally, in an old civilized country, the 'aristocracy of education,' as 
it likes to be called, is a definite stratum of the population without per- 
sonal interests in economics; hence it views the triumphal procession of 
capitalism more skeptically and criticizes more sharply than can natu- 
rally and justly be the case in a country such as the United States. 

As soon as intellectual and esthetic education has become a profession, ■ 
its representatives are bound by an inner affinity to all the carriers of i 
ancient social culture, because for them, as for their prototypes, their I 
profession cannot and must not be a source of heedless gain. They look ] 
distrustfully upon the abolition of traditional conditions of the commu- 
nity and upon the annihilation of ail the innumerable ethical and 
esthetic values which cling to these traditions. They doubt if the domin- 
ion of capital would give better, more lasting guaranties to personal 
liberty and to the development of intellectual, esthetic, and social culture 
which they represent than the aristocracy of the past has given. They 
want to be ruled only by persons whose social culture they consider 
equivalent to their own; therefore, they prefer the rule of the economi- 
cally independent aristocracy to the rule of the professional politician. 
Thus, it happens nowadays in the civilized countries— a peculiar and, 
in more than one respect, a serious fact— that the representatives of 
the highest interests of culture turn their eyes back, and, with deep 


antipathy standing opposed to the inevitable development of capitalism, 
refuse to co-operate in rearing the structure of the future. Moreover, the 
disciplined masses of workingmen created by capitalism are naturally 
inclined to unite in a class party, if new districts for settlement are no 
longer available, and if the workingman is conscious of being forced 
to remain inevitably a proletarian as long as he lives, which is bound to 
come about sooner or later also in this country, or has already come 
about. The progress of capitalism is not hemmed in by this; the working- 
man's chances to gain political power are insignificant. Yet they weaken 
the poHtical power of the bourgeois and strengthen the power of the 
bourgeois' aristocratic adversaries. The downfall of German bourgeois 
liberalism is based upon the joint effectiveness of these motives. 

Thus, in old countries, where a rural community, aristocratically dif- 
ferentiated, exists, a complex of social and political problems arises. An 
American finds it difficult to understand the importance of agrarian 
questions on the European continent, especially in Germany, even in 
German politics. He will arrive at entirely wrong conclusions if he does 
not keep before his eyes these great complexes. A peculiar combination 
of motives is effective in these old countries and explains the deviation 
of European from American conditions. Besides the necessity for strong 
military preparedness, there are essentially two factors: First, something 
which never existed in the greater part of America, which may be desig- 
nated as 'backwardness,' that is, the influence of a gradually disappearing 
older form of rural society. The second set of circumstances which have 
not yet become effective in America, but to which this country — so 
elated by every milHon of increased population and by every rise of 
the valuation of the land — will unavoidably be exposed exactly as Europe 
has been, is the density of population, the high value of the land, the 
stronger differentiation of occupations, and the peculiar conditions re- 
sulting therefrom. Under all these conditions, the rural commiunity of 
old civilized countries faces capitalism which is joined with the influ- 
ence of great political and social powers only known to old countries. 
Even today under these circumstances, capitalism produces effects in 
Europe which can be produced in America only in the future. 

In consequence of all those influences, European capitalism, at least 
on the Continent, has a peculiar authoritarian stamp, which contrasts 
with the citizen's equality of rights and which is usually distinctly felt 
by Americans. These authoritarian tendencies, and the anti-capitalist 
sentiments of all those elements of continental society of which I have 


spoken, find their social backing in the conflict between the Linded 
aristocracy and the urban citizenry. Under the influence of capitahsm, 
the landed aristocracy undergoes a serious inner transformation, which 
completely alters the character the aristocracy inherited from the past. 
I should like to show how this has taken place in the past and how it 
continues to be carried on in the present, using the example of Germany. 

There are sharp contrasts in the rural social structure of Germany 
that no one traveling in the country fails to observe: towards the west 
and the south, the rural settlement grows denser, the small farmers pre- 
dominate more, and the culture becomes more dispersed and various. 
The farther towards the east, especially the northeast one goes, the more 
extended are the fields of cereals, sugar beets, and potatoes, the more an 
extensive cultivation prevails, and the more a large rural class of prop- 
ertyless farm hands stands in opposition to the landowning aristocracy. 
This diflference is of great importance. 

The class of the rural landowners of Germany, consisting particularly 
of noblemen residing in the region east of the Elbe, are the political 
rulers of the leading German state. The Prussian House of Lords repre- 
sents this class, and the right of election by classes also gives them a 
determining position in the Prussian House of Representatives. These 
Junkers imprint their character upon the officer corps, as well as upon 
the Prussian officials and upon German diplomacy, which is almost ex- 
clusively in the hands of noblemen. The German student adopts their 
style of life in the fraternities in the universities. The civilian 'officer of 
the reserve' — a growing part of all the more highly educated Germans 
belong to this rank — also bears their imprint. Theii' political sympathies 
and antipathies explain many of the most important presuppositions of 
German foreign policies. Their obstructionism impedes the progress of 
the laboring-class; the manufacturers alone would never be sufficiently 
strong to oppose the workingmen under the democratic rights of elect- 
ing representatives to the German Reichstag. The Junkers are the props 
of a protectionism which industry alone would never have been able to 
accomplish. They support orthodoxy in the state church. The foreigner 
sees only the exterior side of Germany and has neither the time nor 
opportunity to enter into the essence of German culture. Whatever sur- 
vivals of authoritarian conditions surprise him, and cause the erroneous 
opinions circulated in foreign countries concerning Germany, result di- 
rectly or indirectly from the influence of these upper classes; and many 
of the most important contrasts of our internal politics are based upon 


this difference between the rural social structures of the east and the 
west. Since this difference has not always existed, the question arises: 
How can it be explained historically? 

Five centuries ago landlordism dominated the social structure of the 
rural districts. However various the conditions of the peasant's depend- 
ency which arose from this might have been, and however complicated 
the structure of rural society was, in one point harmony prevailed in 
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: the usually extensive possessions 
of the feudal lord were nowhere — not even in the east — connected with 
extensive cultivation. Though the landlord cultivated a part of his estate, 
the cultivated portion was only a little larger than the cultivated fields 
of the peasants. By far the greater part of the lord's income depended 
upon the taxes the peasants contributed. One of the most important 
questions of German social history is how the present strong contrast has 
arisen from this comparative uniformity. 

Exclusive landlordship was dissolved at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, partly because of the French Revolution, or because of the ideas 
disseminated by it, and partly because of the Revolution of 1848. The 
division of rights of ownership of land between landlords and peasants 
was abolished, the duties and taxes of the peasants were removed. The 
brilliant investigations of Professor G. F. Knapp and his school have 
shown how decisive, for the kind of agrarian constitution which orig- 
inated then and still exists, was the question: How was the estate divided 
between the former landlords and the peasants after the manorial com- 
munity had been dissolved? In the west and south for the most part, 
the land came into the hands of the peasants (or remained in their 
hands). But in the east a very large part fell into the hands of the former 
masters of the peasant, the feudal lords, who established extensive culti- 
vation with free laborers. But this was only the consequence of the fact 
that the uniformity of the agrarian society had disappeared before the 
emancipation of the peasants. The difference between the west and the 
east was confirmed but not created by this process. In its main points 
the difference had existed since the sixteenth century, and meanwhile 
had constantly grown. Landlordship had undergone internal changes 
before the dissolution of the manor. 

Everywhere, in the east and in the west, the endeavor of the land- 
lords to increase their intakes was the motivating factor. This desire had 
sprung up with the invasion of capitalism, the growing wealth of the 
city dwellers, and the growing opportunity of selling agricultural prod- 


ucts. Some o£ the transformations effected in the west and south date 
back to the thirteenth century, in the east to the fifteenth century. The 
landlords pursued their aim in characteristic fashion. In the south and 
west they remained landlords [Grundherren], that is, they increased the 
rates of rent, interest, and the taxes of the peasants, but they did not 
themselves engage in cultivating the land. In the east they became lords 
[Gutsherren], who cultivated their lands; they appropriated parts of 
the peasants' land (the enclosures) and thus procuring a large estate for 
themselves, became agriculturists, using the peasants as serfs to till their 
own soil. Extensive cultivation existed in the east — only to a smaller 
extent, and with the labor of serfs — even before the emancipation of the 
peasants; but not in the west. Now, what has caused this difference? 

When this question is discussed, vast weight is laid upon the conduct 
of political power; indeed, this power was greatly interested in the for- 
mation of the agrarian society. Since the knight was exempted from 
paying taxes, the peasant was the only one in the country who paid 
them. When standing armies were established, the peasants furnished 
the recruits. This, in connection with certain points of view of commer- 
cialism, induced the rising territorial state to forbid the enclosures by 
edicts, that is, the appropriation of the peasants' land by the lords, and 
hence to protect the existing peasants' holdings. The stronger the ruler 
of the country was, the better he succeeded; the mightier the noble was, 
the less he succeeded. According to this the differences of the agrarian 
structure in the east were based, to a great extent, upon these conditions 
of power. But in the west and south we find that, in spite of the greatest 
weakness of a good many states and of the indubitable possibility of 
appropriating peasants' land, the landlords do not even attempt to do so. 
They show no tendency at all to deprive the peasant, to establish 
an extensive cultivation and become agriculturists themselves. Neither 
could the important development of the peasants' rights to the soil have 
been the decisive reason. In the east great numbers of peasants who 
originally had very good titles to the land have disappeared; in the west 
those with the least favorable titles have been preserved, because the 
landlords did not want to remove them. 

The devisive question is therefore: How did it happen that the land- 
lord of the German south and west, although he had ample opportunity 
to appropriate the peasants' land, did not do so, whereas the eastern 
landlord deprived the peasants of their land in spite of the resistance of 
the power of the state.? This question can be put in a different form. 


When the western landlord renounced the appropriation of the peasants' 
land, he did not renounce its utilization as a source of income. The dif- 
ference between east and west in this connection is merely that the 
western landlord used the peasants as taxpayers, while the eastern land- 
lord, by becoming a cultivator, began to use the peasants as a laboring 
force. Therefore, the question must be asked : Why one thing in the east, 
and another in the west? 

As with most historical developments, it is rather improbable that a 
single reason can be assigned as the exclusive cause of this different 
conduct of the landlords; for in this case we should chance upon it in 
documentary sources. Therefore, a long series of single causative factors 
have been adduced as explanation, especially by Professor von Below 
in a classical investigation in his work, Territorium und Stadt. The 
task can only be that of widening the points of view, especially by 
economical considerations. Let us see m what points the conditions of 
the eastern and the western landlord differed when they each endeavored 
to extort from their peasants more than the traditional taxes. 

The establishment of extensive operations was facilitated, for the 
eastern landlords, by the fact that their landlordship as well as the patri- 
monialization of the public authorities had grown gradually on the soil 
of ancient liberty of the people. The east, on the other hand, was a 
territory of colonization. The patriarchal Slavonic social structure was 
invaded by German clergymen in consequence of their superior educa- 
tion, by German merchants and artisans in consequence of their superior 
technical and commercial skill, by German knights in consequence of 
their superior military technique, and by German peasants in consequence 
of their superior knowledge of agriculture. Moreover, at the time of the 
conquest of the east, the social structure of Germany, with its political 
forces, had been completely feudalized. The social structure of the east 
was, from the very beginning, adapted to the social pre-eminence of the 
knight, and the German invasion only altered this slightly. The German 
peasant, even under the most favorable conditions of settling, had lost 
the support given to him in the feudal period by firm traditions, the old 
mutual protection, the jurisdiction of the community in the Weistiimer'^ 
in the west. The Slavonian peasantry, usually more numerous, did not 
know anything of such traditions. Besides, in the west, the fields making 
up the estates of the lords were usually intermingled, even in single vil- 
lages, for they had gradually arisen upon originally free land. These fields 
crossed the patrimonial rights of petty territorial lords everywhere and 


thus, by their variety and mutual conflicts, they secured his toilsome 
existence for the peasant. Very frequently the peasant was politically, 
personally, and economically subjected to quite different lords. In the 
east the combination of landlordship and patrimonial rights over a whole 
village was in the hands of one lord; the formation of a 'manor,' in the 
English sense, was regularly facilitated because, much more frequently 
than in the west, and from the very beginning, only one knight's court 
had been founded in a village, or had already originated from the Sla- 
vonic social structure. And finally there is an important factor, upon 
which Professor von Below correctly lays special stress: the estates of the 
knights in the east, though at first small in proportion to the entire terri- 
tory of a village, were nevertheless usually much larger than was cus- 
tomary in the west. Therefore, the enlargement of the cultivated area o£ 
his estate was, for the lord, much easier than in the west, and also much 
less of a remote idea. Thus from the very beginning there existed, in the 
method of the distribution of the land, the first inducement to differentia- 
tion between east and west. But the cause of this difference in the size 
of the original estate of the landlord was connected with differences be- 
tween the economic conditions of the east and those of the west. Even in 
the Middle Ages, considerably different conditions of life were created 
for the ruling social class. 

The west was more densely populated, and, what is decisive in our 
opinion, local communication, the exchange of goods within and between 
the smallest local communities, was undoubtedly more developed than 
in the east. This was evidenced by the fact that the west was so much 
more thickly settled with towns. It is based partly upon the simple his- 
torical fact that the culture of the west was, in every respect, older, and 
partly upon a less evident, but important geographical difference, the 
far greater variety of the agricultural division of the west in comparison 
with the east. Considered from a purely technical view, communication 
on the extended plains of the German east must have met with fewer 
impediments than in the much intersected and differentiated territory 
of the west. Yet such technical possibilities of communication do not 
determine the amount of exchange. On the contrary, in the west and 
south the economic inducement to trade and to the development of a 
relatively intensive communication was much stronger than on the large 
plains of the east. This was due to the fact that in the west and south, 
bottoms, river valleys, and plateaux, are intermingled— climatic and other 
natural conditions of the production of goods are very noticeably dif- 


ferentiated within narrow districts. In the east, however, the neighboring 
towns have much more frequently nothing to exchange with each other 
(even today), because, having the same geographical situation, all of 
them produce the same goods. Historical and natural conditions of an 
intensive local trade were (and still are), for these reasons, more favor- 
able in the west. 

It is Professor von Below's merit to have pointed to the fact that in 
the Middle Ages the knighthood of the west was not exclusively or even 
predominantly founded upon territorial possession. Taxes, river tolls, 
rents, and imposts, which depend upon a certain amount of local traffic, 
played a role. This was undoubtedly much less possible in those days 
(as at present) in the east. Whoever wanted to live there as a knight had 
to found his existence upon income from his own agricultural operations. 
Large organizations for the production of goods and for foreign com- 
merce, as those of the 'German Order,' are only a differ